THE Crown Prosecution Service has been accused of causing delays and putting trials in jeopardy in south Essex by refusing to complete paperwork on time.

A meeting between Court Service chiefs and representatives of the CPS was held on Friday after a magistrate flagged up the concerns.

Appearing at Southend Magistrates’ Court on Friday, Simon Samuels, of law firm Jerman, Samuels and Pearson, said urgent action needed to be taken over the delays.

He said the actions of the CPS had caused delays to 15 cases in which his firm was involved at Southend last week, and another eight in Basildon the week before. Mr Samuels added when he raised concerns with the prosecution service that defence teams were not having time to represent their clients properly, the CPS wrote back dismissing his fears.

This is despite court guidelines stipulating paperwork be completed 28 days before a trial so an adequate defence can be prepared.

He said: “We have the Crown Prosecution Service writing saying it is ignoring timescales set by the court and will review matterswhen it wants to review matters. If I was sitting at home, either as a defendant saying I’m not guilty or as an aggrieved person, I would be far from happy with the contempt being shown by the Crown Prosecution Service and how matters are being handled.”

Chairman of the bench Colin Campbell said he had flagged up the issue with the Court Service and a meeting was held over the issue on Friday afternoon.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: “The CPS is ensuring cases are ready to proceed on the dates fixed for trial and fully engages with case management to ensure trials are focussed on the issue.

“While there have been difficulties in meeting directions for service of some material, we are working hard to ensure case material is provided in sufficient time for the all parties to be properly prepared for trial.

“We continue to work with the courts and defence to ensure all opportunities are taken to ensure cases are dealt with as efficiently as possible.”