Prosecutions: South West

Attorney General written question – answered on 30th January 2020.

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Photo of Richard Graham Richard Graham Conservative, Gloucester

To ask the Attorney General, what comparative assessment he has made of (a) the number of cases the CPS agreed to pursue came to court and (b) the average waiting time for those cases to be heard when the CPS was (i) based in Gloucester and (ii) based in Bristol.

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis The Solicitor-General

The South West regional area of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) covers three police force areas: Avon & Somerset, Devon and Cornwall and Gloucestershire. The Area is based in Bristol, Exeter and Truro following the closure of the Gloucester office in April 2014. In 2013-14, prior to the closure of the Gloucester office, CPS South West prosecuted 11,826 cases where the CPS had authorised charge. In 2018-19 they prosecuted 9,279. This reduction is consistent with the falling caseload for the CPS nationally.

The CPS does not hold any records relating to the average waiting time at court. However, data is available showing the average time (in calendar days) from the date the decision to charge a suspect was made to the date the prosecution case was finalised. In 2013-14 this was 140.3 days for CPS South West and 139.2 days in 2018-19. For cases referred by Gloucestershire Police the average time taken between decision to charge and finalised prosecution has dropped from 176.5 days in 2013-14 to 142.5 days in 2018-19.

The average timeliness of a prosecution case is measured from the date charges are authorised by the CPS to finalisation. The average time includes the period between the date the CPS authorise the charge, to the date the suspect was charged by the police, to date of the first listed hearing and subsequent finalisation of the defendant’s case. It is not possible to disaggregate the average timeliness between these stages. The data includes cases which are completed in magistrates’ courts and, more serious and complex, cases which proceed to the Crown Court. The precise time to charge a defendant is a matter for the police and similarly the time to list a case in court is a matter for HM Courts and Tribunals Service. The length of time cases take in court depends on the nature and complexity of the matters in question and whether matters are admitted or contested by the defendant.

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