HC Deb 24 May 1993 vol 225 cc566-7
32. Mr. Jacques Arnold

To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on the proportion of prosecutions which are brought to court.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Derek Spencer)

Of the 1,433,858 cases finalised in the magistrates courts in 1992–93, excluding cases received for advice only and non-criminal proceedings, 70.5 per cent. proceeded to a trial or plea, 13.5 per cent. were discontinued, 8.2 per cent. were disposed of for other reasons, including failure to trace the defendant, and a further 7.8 per cent. were committed to the Crown court.

Of the Crown court cases, 88.1 per cent. proceeded to trial or plea, 8.1 per cent. were terminated and a further 3.8 per cent. were disposed of for other reasons.

Mr. Arnold

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware of the considerable disquiet among the public and the police about the determination of the Crown Prosecution Service strongly to prosecute cases?

The Solicitor-General

My hon. Friend will be aware that the Crown Prosecution Service was set up by the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 as an independent prosecution service. It was given a new power under section 23 of the Act to discontinue proceedings and it does so without fear or favour. There is absolutely no reason or point in bringing to trial cases that will foreseeably fail. It is not in the interests of the victim, the defendant, the public and certainly not the police.

Mr. Ray Powell

Is the Minister aware of a Crown court decision taken last week by Judge Kilroy who sentenced a wolf-whistler to two weeks' imprisonment? The wolf-whistler, who whistled at one of my constituents—who was quite happy with the situation—is appealing against the judge's decision of 14 days' imprisonment for whistling in court. What will the Attorney-General do about that?

The Solicitor-General

That is not a matter for any of the Law Officers. It does not fall within their responsibilities.