HC Deb 05 April 2001 vol 366 cc264-6W
36. Mr. Bercow

To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of the Crown Prosecution Service in Buckinghamshire. [155714]

The Solicitor-General

Following successful implementation of the Narey fast tracking arrangements for magistrates court business in 2000, the Crown Prosecution Service and magistrates court managers in Buckinghamshire have worked hard to promote efficient listing practices in the magistrates courts. As a result, there has been effective deployment of two designated caseworkers to prosecute suitable court lists.

More recently, Buckinghamshire Crown Prosecution Service has participated with other agencies to secure agreement to an effective protocol for the accelerated sending of indictable only cases to the Crown court from 15 January 2001. This includes convenient arrangements to deal locally with the preliminary Crown court hearing of certain cases where otherwise those hearings would have been dealt with at a Crown court outside the Thames Valley area.

37. Mr. Jenkins

To ask the Solicitor-General what improvements have been made to the performance of the Crown Prosecution Service in the past three years; and if he will make a statement. [155715]

The Solicitor-General

Over the last three years the service has improved its performance in relation to eight key measures: the proportion of advance information sent to the defence within agreed time scales rose from 77.3 per cent. in 1997–98 to 86.6 per cent. in 1999–2000; the proportion of committal papers served on the defence within agreed time scales rose from 50.6 per cent. in 1997–98 to 76.6 per cent. in 2000–01; and the proportion of briefs sent to counsel within agreed time scales rose from 66.3 per cent. in 1997–98 to 77.1 per cent. in 2000–01.

Over the same period there were also improvements in the timeliness of payment of witness expenses, of replies to complaints and of replies to correspondence from Members of Parliament. More recently and most importantly, there has been a reduction in the number of adverse outcomes of cases attributable to CPS failings.

Measures relating to the quality of performance are under development to ensure that the improvements set out are matched by progress in the quality of the service provided to CPS customers and to the public.

In addition to these statistics, which are all reported in the CPS Annual Report, Her Majesty's CPS Inspectorate conduct a rolling inspection programme and each CPS area is scheduled to be inspected every two years. Reports of such area inspections are available to the public.

37. Mr. Olner

To ask the Solicitor-General what progress has been made in enforcing the Government's policy on racial equality within the Crown Prosecution Service. [155716]

The Solicitor-General

An Equality Committee and an Equality and Diversity Unit were set up to turn the Crown Prosecution Service's equality statement into a reality. All staff employed by the CPS are being trained in equality and Diversity (with a specific emphasis on race). In October 2000, at a conference of all senior managers a major part of the programme was concerned with racial equality issues. In February 2001, a one day race event was run for a cross section of 250 members of staff.

The Crown Prosecution Service is establishing a systematic approach to monitoring the performance of areas on equality general.