Discontinuances

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 John Whittingdale John Whittingdale , Colchester South and Maldon 12:00 am, 22nd January 1996

To ask the Attorney-General what progress has been made in reducing the number of discontinuances; and if he will make a statement. [8860]

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

The rate of discontinuance has fallen from 13.4 per cent. of cases for the year ending September 1993 to 11.9 per cent. of cases for the year ending September 1995.

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale , Colchester South and Maldon

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that the discontinuance of prosecution often causes great frustration to the police and distress to the victims of crime? Can he confirm, therefore, that the very welcome reduction in the number of discontinuances that he mentioned is the result of closer co-operation and liaison between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service?

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

Yes, I can confirm that. Although the matter is of concern, it is of less concern than before as the police and the Crown Prosecution Service are working together very closely at local level to ensure that the quality of files is as high as it can be.

My hon. Friend will realise that some cases will always have to be discontinued. Some 30 per cent. of cases are presently discontinued because they cannot proceed due to the defendant producing documents at court or witnesses refusing, or failing, to attend.