HC Deb 06 July 1981 vol 8 cc17-8W
Mr. Stanbrook

asked the Attorney-General if he is satisfied with the working of his guidelines on jury checks dated 31 July 1980.

The Attorney-General

I am generally satisfied with the working of the new guidelines. It is my policy, and that of the Director of Public Prosecutions, to limit strictly the number of cases in which checks requiring my authority under paragraph 7 of the guidelines are made. So far there have been only two applications for my authorisation of such checks. Both related to terrorist offences and both were granted, but the amount of information supplied to Crown counsel was strictly limited by the director, whose policy it is to make full use of the discretion given to him in the guidelines in respect of the information revealed as a result of the authorised checks, and counsel did not find it necessary in either case to make use of any of the information supplied.

As regards checks conducted on the files of criminal record offices, which do not require my authority, I am assured by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary that the Association of Chief Police Officers fully accepts the need for chief constables to exercise their discretion when deciding in accordance with the association's recommendations annexed to my guidelines whether to authorise checks on criminal records and what information should be passed to Crown counsel following such a check. The practice is to restrict the information passed to prosecuting counsel by the police to details of those previous convictions of potential jurors which relate to their qualification or suitability to sit on a jury, and of any charges of a serious nature which may be awaiting trial and which may be relevant to their suitability.

Forward to