HC Deb 04 March 2002 vol 381 c6W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Solicitor-General what research has been undertaken to address the observations made in Cm3960, summary of the report, paragraph 19, concerning the downgrading of crimes. [35960]

The Solicitor-General

[holding answer 14 February 2002]: Sir lain Glidewell noted statistical evidence showing that charges are sometimes downgraded. He found no evidence that downgrading happens when it should not; but he recommended that the Inspectorate should examine cases of downgrading during inspections and research into the reasons why charges are downgraded.

Following publication of the report the CPS Inspectorate (which has subsequently become independent of the CPS, reporting directly to the Attorney-General), has regularly devoted a section of its biennial reports on all CPS areas to downgrading of charges and the application of common charging standards agreed between the police and the CPS. In his Annual Report for 1999–2000, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector noted that in some 22 per cent. of cases to which charging standards applied the police had selected inappropriate charges. In almost all cases, the inspectors agreed that the CPS had then applied the charging standards correctly, usually to downgrade but sometimes to upgrade the charge.

In the recently published "Review of the Criminal Courts of England and Wales", Sir Robin Auld refers to this research as part of the justification for recommending that the CPS should assume from the police a greater responsibility for determining the charges at the outset of criminal proceedings.

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