Remote PS advice protocol
I met with representative from the National Police Chief’s Council and other practitioners’ group recently to discuss the Joint Protocol (known as JIIP) that we co-signed last year during the first lockdown. I argued to retain the JIIP for as long as possible, to enable members to make their own decisions on whether and when to assist remotely and when to attend. Discussions are ongoing and no final decisions have been taken. It is highly likely the withdrawal will be in two phases. The first will be the withdrawal of the option for any suspect deemed vulnerable by age or capacity and requiring an Appropriate Adult. You should prepare for this around the third stage of HMG’s roadmap out of lockdown which is currently set for 17th May. It is likely I will have further updates in early May.
Regardless of when the JIIP is withdrawn, informed consent and suitability to the suspects needs are at the heart of decision making and should continue to be so.
Having staff on furlough is necessary for many firms with low Crown Court completions and this presents a barrier to returning to business as usual. I intend to meet with represents of the MOJ and LAA to make the case for greater assistance for firms. An increase in payments for CRM 11 claims would be a targeted and long overdue measure; we need not wait for CLAR for that.
Members may have received information from contract managers about a PSR pilot being conducted at 15 sites nationally and by May will be live at Willesden, Thames, Croydon, Bromley and Bexley. Please read the information sheet for details.
The first element of the pilot, preparing the PSR before plea, is being rolled out to all magistrates’ courts nationally because it is believed this can assist the courts to manage safe practice during the pandemic
I believe this element has real promise and would urge practitioners to consider using it where appropriate. You are not obliged to use it if you think it might be disadvantageous to your client. For example, if your client has means, even if the offence suggests a mid-level community order you might prefer to arrive at court without a PSR to enhance your argument for a fine instead. But certainly where there is a risk of custody or no less than a high level Community Order this option works to our advantage, to allow us to work more safely and efficiently completing cases in one hearing.
I have made the point that for GAP cases, a 14-day listing pattern is too tight a turnaround. I will make the case for a 28-day listing pattern.
Please do not be put off if your client has complex needs and is likely to require rehabilitative requirements for addictions or mental illness. In such cases the reviewing probation officer is likely to request a delay to the plea hearing so that work can be done, the benefits of the scheme will still be accrued.
Croydon CC sitting at Jurys Inn - Local Information
19th March 2021