HC Deb 22 January 1998 vol 304 cc1139-40
30. Mr. Bayley

What plans the Government have to reform the Crown Prosecution Service. [22332]

The Attorney-General

The Government remain committed to restructuring the CPS into 42 areas, but the interim advice that we have received from the Glidewell review team is that that cannot take effect until 1 December 1998 at the earliest. I now expect to receive the full report in March.

Mr. Bayley

Will my right hon. and learned Friend tell the House what steps the Crown Prosecution Service is taking to prepare for the implementation of the Narey proposals to ensure that offenders appear in court to face the consequences of their wrongdoing more quickly?

The Attorney-General

There are a number of fast-tracking initiatives around the country involving young offenders, in which the CPS plays a key role. The White Paper on reforming the youth justice system gives examples of two schemes in Middlesbrough and north Hampshire. The north Hampshire scheme has reduced the average time between charge and first appearance from 69 to 44 days, and the average time between charge and sentence has been brought down from 133 to 89 days. That is an encouraging development, which shows what can be achieved by co-operation between agencies. I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree with that.

Sir Nicholas Lyell

We look forward to Sir Iain Glidewell's report. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman asked him to carry out his study into the Crown Prosecution Service, including the important matter of relations between the CPS and the police, he found it necessary to use some rather strangulated wording to ask Sir Iain to consider the manner in which the CPS influences its relationship with the police". Can the Attorney-General assure the House that Sir Iain will be able to look at the picture in the round and see what is happening in the police, which I am sure they would welcome, as well as in the CPS? We could then be sure that the CPS and the police work closely together, so that what is done in the CPS is known right back to the constable on the beat or the officer on the case, and vice versa.

The Attorney-General

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is right. We want to ensure the maximum co-operation between the CPS and the police. He and I will recall that, at the start of the CPS, there were always differences of view on who was responsible for this failure or that failure. We have moved to create 42 areas of the CPS which are coterminous with the police areas. A former inspector of constabulary is a member of the Glidewell team, and will be deeply aware of the need to ensure maximum co-operation between the two agencies.