HC Deb 21 October 1999 vol 336 cc646-7W
30. Mr. Ben Chapman

To ask the Solicitor-General how many cases have been successfully prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service in the last 12 months. [93421]

The Solicitor-General

In the year ending June 1999, the Crown Prosecution Service secured 975,003 convictions in magistrates courts and 69,299 convictions in the Crown Court. This amounts to 98.3 per cent. of cases proceeding to a hearing in the magistrates court and 88.7 per cent. of cases proceeding to a hearing in the Crown Court.

33. Valerie Davey

To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement about the work of the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate. [93424]

The Solicitor-General

The Chief Inspector is at present implementing the changes necessary to adapt the Inspectorate to the revised (42 Area) structure of the CPS and to give effect to the recommendation of the Glidewell Report that its remit should be widened. These changes will include, at the specific request of my right hon. noble and learned Friend the Attorney-General, the introduction of a substantial lay element in the inspection process. In addition, the Government are already committed to legislation to place the CPS Inspectorate, which is at present internal, on an independent statutory basis.

Mr. Berry

To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement on the implementation of the restructuring of the Crown Prosecution Service areas. [93419]

The Solicitor-General

The restructuring of the CPS into 42 areas was implemented on 1 April 1999. Chief Crown Prosecutors are now preparing outline plans for the implementation of further structural changes as recommended in the Glidewell report. These will involve the creation of new Criminal Justice Units and Trial Units.

Mr. McCabe

To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement on the recent visits by the Law Officers to branches of the Crown Prosecution Service. [93420]

The Solicitor-General

Since taking office last summer I have visited 16 CPS areas throughout England and Wales, as well as CPS Headquarters and CPS Inspectorate. The Attorney-General has visited four areas since taking up the post and has another three visits planned. I have another seven visits planned this year and by next summer I anticipate I will have visited all CPS areas. The visits have given me a valuable insight into the workings of the CPS and how the Glidewell and Narey initiatives are being taken forward.

I have met many Higher Court Advocates and I have been very impressed. The Higher Court Advocates seem to have been accepted well by the judiciary and the local Bar. They have had many years' experience of prosecuting in the magistrates' court and so are well equipped to meet the demands of higher court advocacy. Changes in the Access to Justice Bill allow CPS staff who are barristers to join their colleagues in the Crown Court.