Tag Archives: cps

Alison Saunders – New DPP announced

What’s this?

Following last week’s news that there is a new Lord Chief Justice, we have the announcement that there is a new DPP – Director of Public Prosecutions – step forward Alison Saunders CB. There’s a profile of her here if you want some background.

Don’t you mean QC?

No, CB. Ms Saunders was appointed a CB – a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath for her work in relation to keeping the courts going during the riots in the summer of 2011. Ms Saunders was head of CPS London (her current post). It’s likely that she will be upgraded to Dame Alison in due course. It would not be a surprise if she is also appointed a QC (even if an honoury one) at some point as well.

Ms Saunders is the first ‘internal’ DPP – previously, the DPP has been a QC from the independent bar (apart Sir Theobald Matthew, who was a solicitor – the only solicitor DPP – in independent practice when he was appointed in 1944). Ms Saunders joined the CPS pretty much when in started in 1986 and has worked there ever since (apart from a short stint in the Attorney-General’s office).

Good to see a woman get a top job after another male Lord Chief though?

Yes certainly. Although Ms Saunders is not the first female DPP. That honour goes to Dame Barbara Mills QC, who was DPP from 1992 to 1998.

What does the DPP do?

They are head of the CPS (an organisation that employs about 7,000 people with a budget of £650 million) and “set the vision and policy for them“. Ms Saunders will be involved in making decisions as to whether to prosecute in some of the most serious and sensitive cases. They are also the ‘public face’ of the CPS – you will be seeing a lot more of Ms Saunders in the next five years.

The DPP reports to the Attorney-General, who is accountable to Parliament for her actions. There’s lots more information in the CPS Annual Reports.

Is it well paid?

Significantly more than most criminal lawyers! Currently it’s £198,674 a year (compared to an average of £25,000 for legal aid lawyers) – it’s pegged at the salary of a Lord Justice of Appeal as well as a pretty good pension. Who says crime doesn’t pay, eh?

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CPS caseworker sentenced to 12 months for passing case files to girlfriend

Scales of
justice

Martin Tranter, 30, was employed by
the CPS as a casework support officer. He pleaded guilty to
misconduct in a public office.

Here’s some background on the
offence of Misconduct
in a Public Office
.

His girlfriend was Michelle Ward,
whose father was being prosecuted for numerous offences including
rape.

In an apparent
attempt to impress Ward, Tranter accessed the CPS computer and
passed details of the case against her father to her.

The prosecution
said:

“It may not
have been his intention to derail this prosecution, but it was only
a matter of good fortune that his actions did not have a
significant impact on that trial.”

Tranter eventually printed off
documents and gave them to Miss Ward who started to read them but
stopped because she felt “uncomfortable”.

Sentence

Mrs Justice Thirlwell, sitting
at Birmingham
Crown Court
, said he had breached trust placed
in him “in order to gain favour with your girlfriend”.

“You did not just
restrict yourself to obtaining and printing statements. You
repeatedly checked computer records.”

He was sentenced to 12
months.

The Courts
obviously treat this sort of behaviour very seriously and there is
a strong deterrent element to the sentences.

We have previously looked at cases
of police officers misbehaving whilst on duty, which is charged as
misconduct:

  1. Ricci
    Giff – anti-terrorism officer – jailed
    for misconduct

2.
Peter
Bunyan – Sex on duty PCSO gets seven years

3.
First
Operation Elveden – 15 months imprisonment for
DCI Cashburn

It is of course relevant that
the intention was, as was pointed out in mitigation, not to derail
the criminal process but to impress his girlfriend. This acts as
mitigation – to lessen the seriousness of the offence. Obviously,
had he passed on the information for a criminal purpose, that would
necessitate a much higher sentence.

Is 12 months reasonable? Well as
usual we don’t have a great deal to go on, save for the news
reports which can be seen here:

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/cps-worker-martin-tranter-jailed-4057125

12 months seems appropriate to
operate as a deterrent, to punish him, and to mark the seriousness
of his offence. In practice he will serve far less than that, and
probably much less than 6 months.

One might ask whether, in such dire
economic circumstances, whether it is necessary – or indeed
justifiable – to send non-dangerous criminals to prison. Tranter
has lost his job and has a conviction on his record. Would a
community penalty for this sort of behaviour not be more
appropriate, bearing in mind such a sentence is about 1/10 the cost
of 12 months in prison?

What do you
think?