The quality of decision-making by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was found to be good in less than half of the cases analysed by the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) and Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).
The joint report also found that the service to bereaved families was “in many cases poor and short of its own guidance”.
The report makes a number of recommendations for the CPS to “reinvigorate its approach” to road death and injury cases, including the need for specialist prosecutors, as is the case for rape and serious sexual assault offences.
The findings echo the negative experiences of many bereaved and injured road crash victims supported directly by road safety charity Brake through its helpline.
Brake is urging the CPS to implement these recommendations to their full extent, having failed to do so following the last HMCPSI review in 2008.
The report also looked at the role of police investigators in these cases, who were found overall to be professional and thorough. Brake congratulates the police on their improved work, particularly those in the vital and sensitive role of family liaison officer.
The charity, 20 years old this year, works with every police force across the UK to offer support to bereaved and injured road crash victims, and has played a role in training hundreds of police family liaison officers.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said:“Crown prosecutors and police investigators do difficult and hugely important jobs. It is vital they fulfil their roles as professionally and consistently as possible, to ensure devastated victims of road crime feel informed and supported, and that justice has been done. Brake has been at the forefront of supporting crash victims for many years, and we know that many are left feeling betrayed and distressed by their experiences of the justice system.
“We are very encouraged by the significant progress that has been made by police forces in liaising with road crash victims, and hope they will continue to improve and provide victims with a passionate and dedicated service. However, as is made painfully clear by this report, the service being provided by the CPS is inadequate, in terms of decision-making and communication with victims. The CPS needs to implement the HMCPSI recommendations as a matter of urgency.”