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Crown Prosecution Service

Volume 494: debated on Thursday 18 June 2009

14. What estimate she has made of the likely effect of the merger of the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office with the Crown Prosecution Service on the number of jobs in the CPS. (280585)

The merger of the RCPO and the CPS will generate efficiency savings as we combine the strengths of the two organisations, with the aim of delivering an enhanced prosecution service. We anticipate making savings through a range of means, including some headcount reduction over time. At present, however, the management is assuring staff that their employment is secure and that any future reductions will be achieved through natural wastage, as it is called, and as part of ongoing efficiency planning.

The trade unions, the Public and Commercial Services Union and the FDA, might well have been reassured by the CPS that they will be fully consulted about the implementation of the merger, but what reassurance can my hon. and learned Friend give to the skilled, dedicated staff in the RCPO and the CPS that they will not ultimately become casualties of the Treasury’s remorseless fixation with driving down headcount?

Actually, we had this merger in mind at some stage, irrespective of the remorselessness of the Treasury, because we thought it would enhance the prosecution service we give to the public. The history of the RCPO’s roots demonstrates why that element of prosecution was not included in the remit of the CPS, but that is now indeed history, and it will be optimally beneficial for the public for the two agencies to work together. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making it clear that this is a merger and not a takeover by the larger organisation, the CPS, of the smaller one. Management have assured staff that they will all have a job on transfer, which applies to both components, and have stressed the large amount of work that the RCPO will bring into the CPS in any event. All the RCPO contracts will be transferred to the CPS and the existing terms and conditions will be kept at the point of transfer. As I said in my original answer, any further reductions are currently—optimistically, but, I think, rightly—likely to be achieved through what is called “natural wastage”, which is not a very nice term, but means retirement.