HC Deb 06 December 1999 vol 340 c380W
34. Mr. Clifton-Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations his Department has received on the number of people, in the last year for which figures are available, who opted for a trial by jury, as opposed to a magistrate, who changed their plea before the trial commenced. [99711]

Mr. Straw

I refer the hon. Member to the replies given to my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Benn) on 25 November 1999,Official Report, column 181W, by the Minister of State, Home Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke).

35. Mr. Kidney

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research findings he has obtained concerning abuse of the right to elect for trial by jury in either-way cases. [99712]

Mr. Straw

Research conducted by the Home Office showed that nearly 90 per cent. of convicted offenders who had elected Crown Court trial in 1989 had previous convictions and over a third had more than 10 previous convictions. Information is also available from the baseline data collected by the Home Office in 1998 for the evaluation of the pilot schemes to reduce delay in the criminal justice system. In a sample of nearly 1,000 cases in the six pilot areas, about 60 per cent. of those who elected for the Crown Court pleaded guilty before the trial started.