HC Deb 27 July 2000 vol 354 cc734-5W
Mr. Ben Chapman

To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement on morale in the Crown Prosecution Service. [131292]

The Solicitor-General

The SR 2000 settlement for the CPS, which was announced last week, was a good settlement and was well received by staff in the CPS. It will provide a much needed boost to hard pressed prosecutors and caseworkers. As a result, the CPS's budget in 2001–02 will be 12 per cent. higher in real terms than now. This is on top of the additional funding of £15.8 million for 2000–01 which I announced on 26 June 2000. These increases will address the concerns about resource constraints which were identified in the recent staff survey and stress audit.

Helen Jones

To ask the Solicitor-General what plans he has to introduce guidance for the Crown Prosecution Service on decisions to drop cases on grounds of lack of credibility of a witness where the witness suffers from mental health problems. [132903]

The Solicitor-General

None. The Code for Crown Prosecutors issued by the DPP under section 10 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 gives guidance to prosecutors for use when deciding whether or not a case should be prosecuted. The code states that Crown Prosecutors must be satisfied there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction before a case may be prosecuted. When considering this, prosecutors will consider the admissibility and reliability of the evidence. This will include considering the credibility of each witness and any factors which impact on a witness's credibility. The code is presently under review and a revised edition will be published later this year.

The CPS is working with other criminal justice agencies to take forward initiatives recommended in the report "Speaking Up for Justice". The recommendations of the report aim to improve access to justice for vulnerable or intimidated witnesses. These initiatives include measures designed to assist vulnerable witnesses, including those with a disability, to give evidence in court proceedings. The availability of such measures will be a relevant consideration for prosecutors when making prosecution decisions.