Message from Duncan Newbutt – “We want to share with you the work being done to assist & encourage pro-active enforcement case management. You may be aware that at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, we as a department had to review all of our active formal enforcement cases to ensure that we were prioritising cases based on risk and that we were working consistently with Government advice to Local Housing Authorities.
“More recently, you may have seen national news reports about the blocked pipeline of cases in the criminal justice system. This blockage does affect the progression of our prosecution cases. There is talk nationally of ‘nightingale courts’ as the wider problem is recognised but we will have to wait to see how this is taken forward. At the moment, there are no physical hearings taking place in the Magistrates Court and there are limited cases being dealt with via online, and CPS cases are at the moment tending to take precedence. As you will be aware this is where the vast majority of proceedings are instigated and determined. It certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t pursue prosecutions but when we do, it is going to mean we will experience significant delays.
“However, when we are considering prosecuting, we must look at the interim guidance issued by the CPS on the application of the public interest test during the coronavirus pandemic (Coronavirus – Interim CPS Case Review Guidance – Application of Public Interest Covid-19 Crisis Response – 14 April 2020).
“Operations Managers and Legal are meeting fortnightly to discuss ‘Case Management’ and we have in place a ‘live’ overarching case management schedule that is regularly reviewed and updated. Ops Managers are able to escalate and request specific cases to be reviewed jointly by this group. The plan is to invite Lead Case Officers to these meetings when their specific case is discussed so that you are part of this and can influence the case progression. If you and your Principal identify more complex cases where you want additional input, you can raise it with your Ops Manager for escalation to these Case Management Meetings.
“We are still in the early days of these meetings but I am really pleased with the progress being made, and I hope that you will find the availability of this new escalation route useful for the cases you are managing. If you have any questions you want to ask about this new way of working please speak to your Principal in the first instance and we’ll get an answer to you.”