Magistrates Courts (Paperwork)

Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd January 1996.

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Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury 12:00 am, 22nd January 1996

To ask the Attorney-General what steps he is taking to reduce the paperwork involved in bringing criminal charges in magistrates courts. [8859]

Photo of Mr Derek Spencer Mr Derek Spencer , Brighton, Pavilion

In cases where pleas of guilty are anticipated, abbreviated files are being introduced which are expected to reduce paperwork by 5 million sheets annually.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury

That is a welcome answer. An independent inquiry into paperwork in the police force has been conducted by PA Management Consultants, and there is a strong case for having an outside look at the paperwork element of the Crown Prosecution Service because there are concerns, legitimate or not, about delays. We should consider widening the scope of cases that can be handled by the use of guilty pleas through the post, which greatly reduces cost and time in the prosecution process.

Photo of Mr Derek Spencer Mr Derek Spencer , Brighton, Pavilion

My hon. Friend's latter suggestion is already the subject of discussion. The Crown Prosecution Service does not impose case format on the police unilaterally: it is the result of joint discussions between the Crown Prosecution Service, the police and the legal profession.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

Would the Solicitor-General be prepared to call in the papers in the case of my constituent, Miss Elaine Steele, to review the prosecution brought against her?

Photo of Mr Derek Spencer Mr Derek Spencer , Brighton, Pavilion

The Crown Prosecution Service conducts 1.4 million cases annually, so the hon. Gentleman will understand if I do not have the facts of that case at my fingertips at present. Naturally, I shall look into the matter if he asks me to.