HC Deb 30 October 2000 vol 355 c219W
Mr. Gareth Thomas

To ask the Solicitor-General what plans he has to review the operation of plea bargaining in the Crown Court. [134730]

The Solicitor-General

The Code for Crown Prosecutors provides guidance to Crown Prosecutors on a range of casework issues, including the acceptance of guilty pleas. Defendants may want to plead guilty to some, but not all charges. Alternatively, defendants may want to plead guilty to a different, possibly less serious charge. The Code states that, in these circumstances, Crown Prosecutors should accept a defendant's guilty plea only if they think that the court is able to pass a sentence that matches the seriousness of the offending. The Code also states that Crown Prosecutors should never accept a guilty plea just because it is convenient. The Code is a public document, issued under section 10 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 by the Director of Public Prosecutions. It was re-issued in a revised form earlier this month after an extensive public consultation exercise and a copy has been placed in the Library.

The Court of Appeal gave judgment on 16 October 2000 in a Reference by the Attorney-General of a sentence passed on Robin Peverett for offences of indecent assault. The Attorney-General has said that in the light of that judgment he will consider, with the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, whether additional guidance should be issued on the acceptance of guilty pleas at the Crown Court.