Cambridgeshire Police Federation has welcomed changes to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) DG6 guidance and said it hoped the revised measures will ease detectives’ workload.
DG6 was introduced by the Director of Public Prosecutions last year and requires investigators to provide the CPS with trial-ready prosecution before it makes a charging decision.
But the new rules had a massive impact on detectives’ workload which led to increased stress levels among members and slowed down the process of delivering timely outcomes for victims.
The Police Federation launched a campaign to simplify the DG6 guidance in August and has worked alongside the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) to produce the revised Joint Principles for Redaction which has now been developed by the CPS.
Cambridgeshire branch chair Liz Groom said: “From day one it was obvious that the new CPS guidelines were going to massively increase the workload of our detectives who already felt they were being stretched to the limit.
“These revised guidelines will hopefully start to redress the balance and allow our investigating officers to leave their desks and get on with what they do best – solving crimes.
“I am pleased that the Police Federation’s voice has been listened to on this and it shows that when we work together we can achieve results that improve our working conditions.”
The revised principles are supported by legal advice from a King’s Counsel (KC) specialising in information law to ensure they’re legally robust and have been endorsed by the co-chairs of the Joint Operational Improvement Board (JOIB).The main changes are:
- New Supporting Guidance to aid redaction decision-making, including how and when non-redaction can be justified on the grounds of disproportionality. To withstand any legal challenges, it’s important such decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, with the decision documented and approved at inspector rank or above.
- Updated FAQs following feedback on common disputes – changing approaches to data minimisation in favour of pragmatism, including when to consider the redaction of occupations, dates of births, vehicle registration numbers, suspects not charged and names of potential witnesses from witness statements. Given the volume of data breaches documented for these categories. The Federation expects to see a significant reduction in the volume of redaction required following these changes.
Police Federation National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF) chair Ben Hudson called for the immediate implementation of the revised guidance.
Ben, who is leading the Federation’s work on the issue, said: “It’s pertinent that the revised principles are rolled out swiftly by chief constables and the CPS to serve its purpose.
“We’re asking that meaningful and detailed training is provided at the force level to all our members to assist in understanding the material they need to redact as part of evidence disclosure even at the pre-charge stage.
“We also ask that detailed and legally specific training is delivered to inspectors to ensure they fully understand the requirements when signing off the need for non-redaction and explain their rationale as to why they consider it disproportionate.
“We’ll continue to champion the cause of our members and highlight the impact of case file building on policing and justice delivery.
“We’ll carefully watch and consult with members across the country to see how much mitigation these joint principles bring to the huge task that redaction currently is for our members.
“It’s still our position that there’s an urgent need for amending the Data Protection Act and we’re working with partner agencies in this direction. We hope to formally engage with the Attorney General’s office in early 2023 to see how these concerns can be addressed.”
PFNDF deputy chair Jon Nott welcomed the review but warned officers needed full training on the revised guidance to ensure they were effective.
Jon said: “This review is much-needed and welcome and I hope it will go some way to easing the burden on members. We now need a comprehensive roll-out of training to ensure our members are right up to speed on the changes.
“We’ll continue to consult with our members to ensure the changes are having the desired impact and are easing the burden on them and their workload.”