CPS: Disclosure Obligations

Attorney General – in the House of Commons on 7th March 2019.

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Photo of Bambos Charalambous Bambos Charalambous Labour, Enfield, Southgate

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the adequacy of the level of CPS resources to comply with its disclosure obligations.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

I have frequent conversations with ministerial colleagues about this issue and all issues relating to the criminal justice system. In November last year, the Attorney General published his review of disclosure, which examined the efficiency and effectiveness of the current system.

Photo of Bambos Charalambous Bambos Charalambous Labour, Enfield, Southgate

The disclosure process is a fundamental cornerstone of the criminal justice system. Can the Solicitor General outline his priorities to combat its shortcomings?

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

The hon. Gentleman knows that the Attorney General and I, as criminal litigators, have a long and deep interest in this issue. One of the newer challenges has been the rise of technology and the proliferation of telephones and other instruments that have to be examined in many cases. I will chair a digital summit in the months ahead, to try to develop innovative new ways in which we can assist the process. The disclosure issue, I am afraid, is a cultural issue of long standing. Not only the CPS but the police and other agencies have to change their ways and improve the position.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis Conservative, Banbury

What steps is my hon. and learned Friend taking to ensure that victims do not feel afraid or concerned about reporting crimes?

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. She knows, in the context of disclosure, that we must be very careful to strike a balance so that it does not become a box-ticking exercise. In particular, in every case the necessity to seize telephones and other items from victims should be assessed very much on the evidence, rather than as a matter of course. I think we must do everything to make it clear to victims that they will get support and encouragement, rather than feel that the process is working against them in a way that can be just as traumatic as the crime itself.