HC Deb 25 November 1999 vol 339 c752
33. Mr. Ben Chapman (Wirral, South)

If he will make a statement on progress in the reform of the Crown Prosecution Service. [98872]

The Solicitor-General

We have made substantial progress in the reform of the CPS. As from April this year, CPS area boundaries now reflect those of police forces, encouraging closer liaison and co-ordination between the CPS and the police and enabling a better service to be provided to local communities. More work is being done and a major change programme is in progress, building on the Glidewell report and the new structures.

In the wider context, we are working to ensure that the criminal justice system really acts as a joined-up system. For the first time, we have an overarching single strategic plan and sets of joint aims and performance targets for the system in England and Wales. From April 2000, inter-agency strategy committees will address local performance issues.

Mr. Chapman

Will my hon. and learned Friend tell me more specifically about Sir lain Glidewell's recommendations on criminal justice units and on witness warning?

The Solicitor-General

We have accepted the recommendation about criminal justice units, and local areas are in the process of submitting plans. We decided that the police should retain their responsibility for witness warning, but, as I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Kidney), witnesses and victims are now at the centre of our policy. Unfortunately, witnesses have not been taken seriously in the past and were pushed from pillar to post, but without witnesses we cannot conduct successful prosecutions, and we are now taking that point seriously.

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