find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Corporate Lawyer
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· 12 months fixed term opportunity
View details
Property lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Impressive client list, national firm · Well-led and high-performing team
View details
DPP defends office’s efficiency

DPP defends office’s efficiency

IN THE face of reports that his office has been unable to account for its efficiency, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, has accused the NSW Government of underfunding…

IN THE face of reports that his office has been unable to account for its efficiency, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, has accused the NSW Government of underfunding “an essential part of the core business of government”.

According to a report released recently by the Audit Office of NSW, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) has not been adequately transparent in its reporting on efficiency, and it has not been able to provide sufficient information about the costs of its services or on how staff use their time.

While acknowledging that the ODPP can improve on the way it records and reports on its efficiency, and agreeing with many of the report’s recommendations in this area, Cowdery has defended the office’s efficiency.

“The ODPP has consistently operated within budget for over 20 years. The government would not be allocating funds to the extent of $95 million every year if the money was not being accounted for,” he said.

“All staff and Crown prosecutors are managed and supervised in their daily work. The issue is not that they are not working professionally and effectively — the issue is that there are not presently sufficient records of precisely what they do and precisely how those activities are reflected in cost,” he said.

Cowdery has also responded to the report’s claim that while the ODPP’s case load has fallen over the last five years, its budget has increased by more than 40 per cent and its staff numbers by more than 10 per cent.

“The figures quoted are misleading and without proper explanation,” he said. According to Cowdery, the budget increase over that time (which he said is actually four years, not five) accounts for rises in salary costs, the expansion of the Witness Assistance Service by 26 positions (which he says accounts for most of the staff increase), and dedicated funding for the ongoing Criminal Case Conferencing Scheme. It also covered the implementation of a “Base Budget Review” by an independent group, which according to Cowdery, actually recommended that the ODPP receive a substantial budget increase to enable it to function properly.

Further, Cowdery said, workloads have actually increased over this time as cases have become more complicated, time consuming and labour intensive, and employees are feeling the strain.

“The agreed caseload limits for lawyers have been exceeded across the state. Staff work through the night and weekends to be able to proceed professionally and flexible leave is not being taken, despite managers’ attempts to reduce leave balances. This situation just cannot continue,” he said.

“The government seems unable to acknowledge the financial strains on this essential part of the core business of government, and to respond appropriately. Instead it shoots the messenger. While it provides more funds for police and prisons, it cuts all the services in between,” he said.

Cowdery has also spoken out against the report’s recommendation that an executive director be introduced into the ODPP who would have the same or greater status as the deputy directors, and who would report directly to the director.

While not necessarily opposed to the introduction of a senior financial and business manager, Cowdery’s concern is that the proposed position is very senior and could also be reporting directly to the government, which would threaten the ODPP’s legitimacy.

“The Attorney-General has decided, for the present, that he wants the [executive director] to report to him as well [as the director],” he said. “Any appointment to the ODPP made by the government that answers in any capacity to Attorney-General undermines the independence of the ODPP.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

DPP defends office’s efficiency
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, even how we take a...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...