Crown Prosecution Service

Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th June 1996.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay , Thurrock 12:00 am, 17th June 1996

To ask the Attorney-General what further legislation he plans in the current parliamentary Session to expedite the work of the Crown Prosecution Service. [31639]

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

Initiatives include co-ordinated police training to ensure early delivery of the right material to the Crown Prosecution Service and pilots to test the use of electronic mail between criminal justice agencies. None of those initiatives requires legislation.

Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay , Thurrock

Has the hon. and learned Gentleman noticed that Question Time for him and the Attorney-General is unique, in that they do not attract the usual fawning and obsequious questions from Conservative Members? Is that not because there is widespread dismay about their stewardship of the Crown Prosecution Service and our justice system?

The common experience of Members of Parliament across the House is that the CPS is not performing and is not responsive and sensitive to those who feel that they are victims, and that there are inordinate delays and insufficient prosecutions pursued with vigour. Is it not time that something was done about that? Will the hon. and learned Gentleman bear it in mind that that is the view of Members of Parliament on both sides of the House, as demonstrated by the fact that no support comes from those on the Benches behind him?

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

Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong again. Those hon. Members who go to their local branch of Crown prosecutors—they are few and far between, I regret to say—almost without exception come away very impressed with the professionalism, care, skill and dedication of the people who work in the CPS. Let that be known.

Photo of Mr Walter Sweeney Mr Walter Sweeney , Vale of Glamorgan

In order to expedite the work of the CPS, is it not absolutely essential to reduce the amount of paperwork and to improve relations between the CPS and the police? Would my hon. and learned Friend care to comment on those two matters?

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

Yes, I agree that it is. As I travel round the country or appear in court cases and speak to police officers at all levels, almost without exception they speak highly of the professionalism shown in their cases by the Crown Prosecution Service. Whenever possible, we are astute at reducing the paperwork involved in the preparation of cases. In the past 12 months, we have introduced a scheme to reduce paperwork in guilty pleas in the magistrates court, which should annually reduce the amount of paperwork by about 5 million pieces.