THE Crime Prosecution Service in Ealing is performing below the national average with concerns about high staff sickness, unsatisfactory handling of case loads and poor decision-making, according to inspectors.

In a report published by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, Ealing CPS has been rated as 'fair' overall, with decision-making in both Magistrates' and Crown Court rated as 'poor', with the service to victims and witnesses, and prosecution of cases being rated as 'fair'.

Conviction rates for Magistrates' Courts last year was 84per cent compared to the national average of 87per cent and in Crown Court, only 69per cent of cases resulted in a conviction compared to the average of 80per cent.

In the report, the inspector wrote: "Many of the casework issues which give cause for concern are a consequence of under resourcing. The borough has to be reactive, continually working in a fire-fighting environment.

"Work is inevitably prioritised but sometimes this causes duplication, and a breakdown of systems in place to deal with casework preparation which merely adds to the pressure. The key performance indicators in relation to charged cases were consistently poor throughout the year ending September 2009, but have shown some improvement in recent months."

The inspectors did take into account the fact that the Ealing CPS team had relocated to Acton Police Station last year and custody time limits and management of the service was on the whole, good.

They also praised the team spirit and the dedication of staff in working beyond their contracted hours to finish necessary work.

Irene Bhadresa, the Ealing Borough Crown Prosecutor said in response to the report: "We are pleased the Inspectorate has recognised we have systems and processes in place which are working well and staff are working hard in the borough to provide a good service.

"A London wide review of resourcing in each borough is currently in progress and this will ensure we have the right number of people to deal with the workload and ensuring we have the strongest cases possible when we get to court.

"In the last year we have moved into Acton Police station and it is hoped this co-location with the police will lead to many improvements in the way we work.

"My team and I are dedicated to prosecuting crimes committed in Ealing, ensuring offenders are brought to justice and the people of Ealing have confidence in their Crown Prosecution Service."