Targets (Police and CPS)

Oral Answers to Questions — Solicitor-General – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 19 July 2007.

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Photo of Mark Pritchard Mark Pritchard Conservative, The Wrekin 11:30, 19 July 2007

What steps she has taken to ensure that targets set for the Crown Prosecution Service do not conflict with targets set for police forces in England and Wales.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Solicitor General, Law Officers' Department

The Law Officers agree public service agreement performance targets for the criminal justice system with the Home Secretary and the Lord Chancellor. Common performance targets help to ensure that there are no conflicts between the targets for the police and those for the Crown Prosecution Service, or at least minimum ones.

Photo of Mark Pritchard Mark Pritchard Conservative, The Wrekin

With respect to the Solicitor-General, I beg to differ on that point. Does she share my concern that often, and mysteriously, the targets set for the police require a higher evidence threshold than those set for the Crown Prosecution Service? Police forces such as West Mercia work hard to bring criminals before the courts, only to find that they are put at the bottom of the pile because the CPS has another target to meet, and that, whatever the evidence produced by the police, it is not brought before to court, meaning that criminals go free.

Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Solicitor General, Law Officers' Department

Quite honestly, I do not think so. The levels of evidence required before the Crown Prosecution Service will bring a prosecution are extremely well known. They have been in place in the code for Crown prosecutors for many years and were very clear even before that was drafted. They are well known to the police. There can be no real difference in the standards required of the two organisations. Local criminal justice boards ought to ensure that there is good co-ordination between police and prosecutors across a whole range of issues—indeed, across all issues. If there are specific difficulties in the hon. Gentleman's area that he wants to draw to my attention, I hope that he will do so. I will ensure that they are forwarded.