HC Deb 31 October 1994 vol 248 c1208
34. Mr. Waterson

To ask the Attorney-General how many offices of the Crown Prosecution Service he has visited in the last six months; and if he will make a statement.

The Attorney General

Since April I have visited four offices of the Crown Prosecution Service—in Maidstone, Newcastle, Chippenham, and Camberwell.

Mr. Waterson

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for that answer. Is he wholly satisfied that the relationship between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service is all that it might be, particularly when it comes to preparing cases for prosecution?

The Attorney-General

A good and close working relationship between the police and the CPS is essential if cases are to be brought speedily and efficiently to trial. I know from my visits that in most parts of the country that is well realised. The challenge is to bring the standard in both services up to the level of the best in both services. That done, we shall be doing very well indeed.

Mr. Bermingham

Does the Attorney-General agree that in the 13 areas in which the CPS and its offices are contained there is a wide divergence of prosecuting policy? Quality control, for want of a better word, is not always the same in one area as in another. Would it not be a good idea to take steps to strengthen that side of the service, giving staff more input, so that people prosecuted in Newcastle and Exeter are prosecuted on the same basis?

The Attorney-General

The hon. Gentleman is thinking along the same lines as the Crown Prosecution Service in the sense that it and the police are working to establish high standards of charging practice, to cut paperwork and bureaucracy to that which is strictly necessary for the task, and to see that high standards of liaison exist between the police and the CPS and vice versa. They are making significant progress in those directions.