Clause 29

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 20th March 2007.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East 11:30 am, 20th March 2007

I have not had much contact with the CPS recently, although I did when it was first established, when I was working at a magistrates court. I am not saying that there would be a deliberate intention to slow things down. However, it puts the offender at risk of the vagaries in the system, in that some cases are obviously brought quicker than others. It seems unfair that if somebody is arrested for an offence in an area where the Crown Prosecution Service is quicker at bringing cases to court than in others, they would be treated differently. I know that the Minister has concerns about the difficulty in pinpointing dates of offences, and I understand that that might be why they have chosen to go along the route of using the date of conviction. I know that, particularly in cases such as child abuse, it can be difficult to get the victim of a crime to specify when the offence happened. I understand why it has been suggested that date of conviction should be used instead, but I would be keen to know what safeguards would be built in, so that we do not have an anomaly where people, particularly close to their 18th birthday, might be treated differently.