Crime? It's All in a Day's Work for Us; Es Jobs

The Evening Standard (London, England), July 25, 2005 | Go to article overview

Crime? It's All in a Day's Work for Us; Es Jobs


Byline: HILARY WHITNEY

Who deals with criminals once the police have caught them? Hilary Whitney talks to a crown prosecutor, a probation officer and a prison warder ...

CROWN PROSECUTOR Yin Dewick, married with sons aged 10 and six, is a Borough Crown Prosecutor based in west London. She says: AS A law student, I was always interested in criminal law because it touches on so many aspects of human life. I always loved addressing the school assembly, so it's not that surprising that I decided to be a barrister.

I was brought up in Malaysia and studied law at Reading University before moving to London to complete the Bar vocational course, which teaches the skills needed to practise as a barrister, such as interviewing clients, taking part in mock trials and learning how to draft documents.

Students are then required to spend a year in pupillage, which I was lucky to get because it's very competitive and, as a Chinese woman, I was very much in the minority. I was also fortunate in that I was sponsored by the Crown Prosecution Service.

During this time, I spent six months with the Crown Prosecution Service in Acton where, under heavy supervision, I was able to carry out simple court work, such as dealing with traffic offences. When my pupillage finished, I became a Crown Prosecutor.

A big advantage of the Crown Prosecution Service is that it offers flexible working hours and career breaks, which was a huge bonus when my sons, now aged 10 and six, were very small. The service employs approximately 2,500 lawyers and every year they deal with more than 1.3 million cases in magistrates' courts and about 115,000 in crown courts.

Each case referred to us by the police is reviewed by a prosecutor who will decide whether there is enough evidence to provide a realistic possibility of conviction. If a prosecutor decides there is enough evidence, he or she must decide whether or not it is in the public's interest to prosecute, which usually depends on the seriousness of the crime or the offender's circumstances.

Two years after joining the CPS, I was promoted to Senior Crown Prosecutor and in January this year I became a Borough Crown Prosecutor, which means that in addition to my own case work, I have overall responsibility for the service in my borough, including 14 lawyers.

We deal with the whole gamut, from traffic offences to domestic violence and murders. It can be very pressurised because it's a heavy workload with lots of tight deadlines, but I work with a really good team.

Obviously, you see some of the worst aspects of human nature but the fact that I'm helping to protect the public from dangerous criminals makes it all worthwhile. You have to judge each case on its own particular merits because some people haven't had many opportunities in their life.

Sometimes I do find myself thinking: "There but for the grace of God go I."

PROBATION OFFICER Sheik Karin, 47, who lives in north London with his two young sons, is originally from Mauritius but moved here with his family when he was 11. He says: WHEN I was 13, I overheard a neighbour telling someone he had been to see his probation officer and that he had told him a lot of lies.

I didn't know what a probation officer was but the fact that someone could lie so blatantly to an office holder shocked me. I was no angel, but my parents had brought me up to respect authority.

As I found out more about the job, I eventually decided to become a probation officer myself. I suppose it came from the simple desire to make a difference. I was also very conscious of the social and economic cost of offending, not to mention the terrible impact it can have on offenders' families.

There are 691 probation officers in London and our remit is to keep the community safe from crime by supervising offenders in the community, addressing offending behaviour and ensuring that offenders comply with court orders. …

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