Ah, the dreaded CPS memo. Often a long list of truly amorphous blobs of undoability (a term I have stolen, I confess). You’re busy, this document arrives in your in-tray and you immediately enter the depths of despair. You read it, and the following thoughts go through your head:
- I don’t have time.
- They don’t need that.
- What is that all about?
- How long will that take?
- I don’t have time.
Unfortunately, the one thing the CPS will say when you decline their kind request for you to do this extra work is – if you don’t, we won’t prosecute. It’s their ultimate sanction, the one they should use last, and the most childish one. But it remains a possibility that the work you’ve done so far, for your victims, will be wasted because the CPS are the only solicitors who tell their clients what to do, rather than just advise them. So having accepted that you’re stuck with it, what to do?
First of all, consider tis memo to be nothing more than a ToDo List. You can use this memo as a proxy To Do List but If you want, you can transfer all the items to your own Activity Checklist or To Do List document. It seems daft, but psychologically, taking ‘their’ memo and listing the contents on ‘your’ form means you take control of the work. It seems odd, but it is true – the CPS list is now your list. Having done that, what next? You may be surprised, but the answer might be to make the list longer. (WHAT!!??) Let me explain.
In my book, Police Time Management, I state that there are really only 4 kinds of ‘things’ to do. Tasks, Appointments, Notes and Contacts. All of the demands will come under one or more of those headings, but will only require one act at a time. Let me illustrate.
Any demand that is entirely within your power to complete is probably a Task. You can do it without help, resources, etc. Such a CPS request will be a one-liner – ‘Get me this…’. Maybe it’s just a question, or you need to copy something in your possession. Easy.
But other requests may be a paragraph long. Such items will routinely require input from others, so the first action you need to plan is – to make Contact. Plan that contact, make it where possible (i.e. if it can be done straight way), then plan the next action required. If you need to visit someone, make the appointment – through initial contact or directly if possible. In this scenario, Notes will initially be documents already in your possession, and later they’ll be the documents you amass in carrying out the required actions.
Having decided what items actually are (TANC), another assessment you need to make will be – how long do I have? This focuses your mind and allows you to assess which items on your TANC list are urgent, if any. Urgent ones need to be given a deadline, but you know how they work. The ultimate deadline (‘reply by’ date) provides the time frame within which you can decide what-to-do-when.
Having considered the demands as TANC-identified things to do, your list may be longer, but now it is manageable and actionable. Each action on your plan requires one, simple act. Copy something, call someone, get something, complete a form and wait. And so on. Instead of detailed, long-winded and complicated demands on the original memo, your own version will be:
- Contact CSI re statement from Jones
- Complete MGFSS re additional items
- Obtain authorisation for FSS work
- Arrange movement of exhibits as per policy
- Call Fred re statement appointment
- Take Fred statement
- Print Google Map of crime location/roue of travel of suspect
- Draft suspect movements on printout
- Finalise and submit as exhibit
- Research legal argument why request is unnecessary 😊
All single, actionable tasks, completion of which will meet the CPS demands within the timescale because you planned them, rather than just read and hated them.
This example is very much off the top of my head and therefore exceptionally simple, but take a look at your last memo from the CPS and see if you could have made it easier to complete by converting it from lawyer-speak to a TANC-related list of singular tasks. And ask yourself, “If I did this, would I have been less stressed?”
And then do that for all your work.
For an in-depth explanation and demonstration of the TANC idea, get the book Police Time Management, only £12.99 from Amazon for 300+ pages of help!