Business writing skills in the news

It’s not often that a story on writing skills makes it into the pages of a national newspaper, but The Guardian recently ran an article on just that subject (23 August, ‘Half of prosecution service letters to complainants “below standard”’).

His Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate has released a report finding that almost half the letters the CPS sends in response to complaints were below the standard expected. Two-thirds of the complaints were from victims of crime.

Many letters got the basic details wrong. They were sent late. They didn’t give all the information needed to resolve the issue. They were ‘cut and paste’ responses based on standard templates, with frequent spelling errors. They showed a startling lack of empathy towards their intended reader.

Most alarmingly, perhaps, this was actually an improvement on the situation five years ago, when the last report was published. The proportion of ‘inadequate’ letters has dropped from almost 75% to almost 50% (although ‘good’ letters have also dropped, from 26% to 19%).

The lawyer who wrote the report, Andrew Cayley QC, said: ‘The best way to respond to a complaint is by putting yourself in the shoes of the complainant. The CPS has a long way to go to reach this point of self-awareness.’

But it’s easy to criticise. It’s not just the CPS, as we know from our work with clients across a range of sectors.

What would a similar investigation into your organisation reveal?

Perhaps it’s time to check out a few of our courses?


To discuss these or any of our other courses in more detail, you can contact us on 01582 4632463 – we’re always happy to help.