Costs of collection

As part of the evaluation of the draft measures, Justices' Chief Executives, from the MCCs which tested the measures, were asked to comment on the cost of implementing the CPMs under two main headings: set-up- costs (the one-off costs arising from setting up the systems to generate the CPMs) and recurring costs (the ongoing costs of using them). Nearly all costs were expressed in terms of person days of staff time.

Set-up costs for the set of draft CPMs were generally assessed at around one to two weeks of staff time, the cost varying according to the salaries of the staff used, Those CPMs considered the most time-consuming to put in place were CPMs 1 and 3. Assessments of recurring costs varied widely; from negligible to 78 days of staff time a year. with CPMs 1 and 8 the most time-consuming, It is not obvious what accounts for this disparity, although contributing factors may be the frequency with which the measures are used..and the quality of the systems in place; the MCC which considered that recurring costs were negligible had ,Successfully tailored its computer system to generate much of the data automatically.

The variations in assessment of cost militate against hard assertions. While implementation of the CPMs undoubtedly requires investment in terms of staff time, the costs of that investment from the responses received. are outweighed by the reported value of the measures to MCCs. Computer systems The main reason for the investment in staff time required to implement the core measures is the fact that. With different computer systems.

Data collection for a majority of the measures remains a manual process. Data is far more likely to be used by,MCCs and nJ. anagers if it is readily available at the push of a computer key, Critical") the success of'the LIBRA system will be the ,; extent to which it is able to provide the key information required by managers to run courts efficiently, particularly in the area of Case management Delay in completing cases has been recognised as an issue of national concern. yet none of the three main computer systems is able to provide reliable information on how long cases take to process: CPM 1, although regarded as a key performance measure is among the most time- consuming CPMs to generate.

Weighted caseload The Inspectorate is aware of concern which some in the service have expressed about the use of weighted caseload figures. A common argument is that the weightings are too crude; that they fail to reflect the complexity of cases, and do not take account of differing plea rates. There are also concerns about the differences between the three main computer systems in calculating weighted caseload and, therefore, about the reliability of comparative weighted caseload data. Some CPMs, nevertheless, use weighted caseload data in their calculation.

While recognising the concerns of the service, the purpose of the thematic review was to improve the practice of local performance management rather than create new ways of measuring the work processed by magistrates' courts, which is a much greater task and not one for the Inspectorate alone. At the time of drafting this report, the LCD is considering what can be done in advance of LIBRA to improve the reliability of weighted caseload data. For the moment, however, weighted caseload remains :he most appropriate measure of workload to use.