Hugh Bayley, MP for York Central, has received a letter from the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service Yorkshire and Humberside, Martin Goldman, dated 24 July which confirms that a Crown Prosecution Service team will be maintained in York.
Hugh Bayley has been calling on the Government to keep the joint police and Crown Prosecution Service office at Athena House in York open following a proposal to transfer the 65 members of staff to an office in Leeds. The MP met the Justice Minister to persuade him to meet Law Officers when he learned of the plan. Athena House was set up in 2005 as a joint office for the CPS and the police to get prosecutors and police staff working side by side on cases. The York Central MP raised the matter in a debate in the House of Commons when he urged the Justice Minister to stop the proposed move. He then wrote to the Minister about cost savings and reductions at York and Selby Courts since Athena House opened and he asked a string of Parliamentary Questions. Further discussions took place with representatives from the Public and Commercial Services Union, the CPS and North Yorkshire Police.
The MP argued that by getting prosecutors and police working side by side they avoided administrative slip ups and delays in court proceedings. Delays can result in huge costs for judges, witnesses, prisons, lawyers and court staff when court cases are cancelled at the last moment. After hearing from the York Central MP, the Attorney General gave him an assurance that he would consult further over the CPS proposal to transfer staff to Leeds and he pledged to ensure that the CPS should “maintain a presence in York.”
In his letter to Mr Bayley, Mr Goldman, says that following an informal consultation with staff, unions, criminal justice partners and the Crown Prosecution Service HQ a decision has been taken to move out of Athena House but he then goes on to reassure the MP that a team will be maintained in York and the CPS is hopeful that this will be centrally located near to the courts.
Hugh Bayley MP says:
“I am pleased that the Chief Crown Prosecutor has agreed to maintain a CPS team in
York close to the courts. I have been arguing that it makes sense for prosecutors and police
to work side by side during court proceedings as it avoids administrative errors and it can
greatly reduce delays which can result in huge costs to judges, witnesses, prisons, lawyers
and court staff.
“It makes no economic sense to transfer the CPS office to Leeds as this could severely
impact on court services in York and Selby. Any short term financial gain could prove
more expensive in the long term. I am glad the Chief Crown Prosecutor has listened to my
views and he has agreed to retain a team in York. The question now is how many staff will
stay in York and whether they will maintain the benefits of working closely with the police
on preparing cases for the courts. I look forward to learning more about the plans when I
visit York Magistrates Court next week.”