HC Deb 16 November 2000 vol 356 cc772-3W
32. Fiona Mactaggart

To ask the Solicitor-General what guidance he gives to the Crown Prosecution Service on consultation with victims on decisions about whether to prosecute.[137168]

The Solicitor-General

The Code for Crown Prosecutors was reissued last month. It sets out among other things the relationship between the CPS, victims and the public interest. The Code explains that the CPS prosecutes on behalf of the public at large and not just in the interests of any one individual.

The Code at paragraphs 6.7 and 6.8 makes it clear that Crown Prosecutors should always take into account the consequences for the victim of the decision whether or not to prosecute, and any views expressed by the victim or the victim's family as that is part of the public interest.

Prosecutors should already carry this out in appropriate cases, but additional guidance is being considered to improve this process.

Mr. Paterson

To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement on the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on the operation of the Crown Prosecution Service.[137165]

The Solicitor-General

The significance of the Human Rights Act on the work of the CPS was recognised at an early stage, and a high priority was given to ensure the CPS was well prepared for the implementation of the Act on 2 October 2000.

In consultation with other prosecuting agencies and leading external human rights experts, the CPS developed a comprehensive training course for CPS prosecutors. The training programme reached nearly 2,500 prosecutors and selected caseworkers before 2 October 2000.

This training programme and the continued guidance and advice that CPS staff receive has ensured that cases giving rise to human rights issues have been dealt with in a professional and effective manner. We had expected that human rights problems would be raised in ordinary cases, and that they would be dealt with in the ordinary way. This has proved to be the case.

The Human Rights Act has meant that the courts are considering many new arguments. A number of cases raising human rights points are already going to the appeal courts. Where such cases have an impact on the criminal justice system as a whole and need to be litigated and resolved urgently they may be fast tracked to the appeal courts.

Mr. Blizzard

To ask the Solicitor-General what arrangements he has put in place for reviewing the work of the CPS Inspectorate; and how he measures the effectiveness of the Inspectorate.[137161]

The Solicitor-General

My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and I routinely meet the Chief Inspector to discuss the work of the Inspectorate and the issues emerging. We receive and consider the Annual Report of the Chief Inspector together with reports of each Area inspection and thematic review undertaken. An Advisory Board is at present being established to ensure that the Inspectorate activity is targeted on those matters which most influence the performance of the CPS itself and the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system as a whole.