§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has any proposals to reduce the time taken to complete hearings in criminal proceedings.
§ Mr. John Patten
We have urged magistrates and court clerks to concentrate on reducing delays. A training video, "Court in Action", was launched earlier this year. A management information system has been introduced to help magistrates courts monitor their performance and performance targets have been set. We have authorised additional court clerk posts, and we shall be issuing guidance later this year on listing and efficient use of court resources. We intend to extend the operation of statutory custody time limits to the whole of England and Wales by the end of the year.
My noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor has taken steps to tackle delays in the Crown court through the provision of more resources and improved management. Additional judges have been appointed and new courtrooms opened.
We shall be monitoring the impact of these initiatives carefully.