HC Deb 21 March 2001 vol 365 cc231-2W
Mr. Kaufman

To ask the Solicitor-General if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effects on the Manchester, Gorton constituency of his Department's policies and actions since 6 November 2000. [154500]

The Solicitor-General

I refer my right hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 6 November 2000,Official Report, column 1W.

On 13 November 2000, the City of Manchester branch of the Crown Prosecution Service underwent the reorganisation I referred to in my previous answer. In line with the Glidewell proposals, the branch now has Trial Units and Criminal Justice Units covering the North and South Manchester Policy Divisions. At the present time and for the foreseeable future, it is unlikely that the Crown Prosecution Service will be able to co-locate with the police at Elizabeth Slinger Road Police Station.

In partnership with other agencies, the Crown Prosecution Service has made a concerted effort to reduce the length of time, between arrest and sentence, that persistent young offenders remain within the criminal justice system. On 25 November 2000, there were 201 persistent young offender cases currently before Manchester Youth Court. On 14 March 2001, that figure had been reduced to 137. Similarly, the average time from arrest for all current cases has shown a reduction from 98 days to 89 days over the same period. All these changes illustrate the Government's successful period. All these changes illustrate the Government's successful policy of speeding up the work of the criminal justice system.

On 15 January 2001, section 51 Crime and Disorder Act 1988 came into force. One of the first cases dealt with by the City of Manchester branch involved the arrest of four defendants under Operation Auction 1. This, as my right hon. Friend knows, is a police operation set up to combat a high level of street robberies in Gorton. The four defendants made their first appearance before Manchester City Magistrates Court on 16 January 2001. On 24 January 2001 they appeared before the Crown Court. One of the defendants, Stuart Smith, indicated immediately that he intended to plead guilty to assault with intent to rob. He entered his guilty plea on 8 February 2001 and was sentenced to a Detention and Training Order for two years. This illustrates the potential effectiveness in speeding up serious cases. Slightly over three weeks from the.date of his first court appearance, the defendant received a substantial custodial sentence. Previously the case was unlikely to have been finalised within three months. Committal proceedings would have taken approximately eight weeks and a further four weeks would have elapsed between committal and a plea and directions hearing at the Crown Court.

Actions and policies of the Treasury Solicitor's Department and the Serious Fraud Office affect my right hon. Friend's constituency only indirectly.