HC Deb 10 July 2003 vol 408 cc960-3W
Gregory Barker

To ask the Solicitor-General if she will list the performance targets that(a) her Department and (b) its agencies and non-departmental public bodies are required to meet; and if she will specify for each target (i) who sets it and (ii) who monitors achievement against it. [120869]

The Solicitor-General

[holding answer 24 June 2003]: Key performance targets are agreed as part of the Spending Review and the latest set were published in Spending Review 2002: Public Service Agreements 2003–06 (Cm 5571). Targets are monitored with HM Treasury and progress is reported regularly.

Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service, along with other criminal justice agencies, is subject to a Public Service Agreement for which the Home Secretary, the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General are jointly responsible. The Public Service Agreement prescribes three targets for the criminal justice system: to narrow the justice gap by bringing more offences to justice and reducing ineffective trials; to improve public confidence in the criminal justice system; and to increase value for money. These are overarching targets applying to the police, the courts and the Crown Prosecution Service. Day to day delivery is the responsibility of all of these agencies, working together in partnership through Local Criminal Justice Boards established across each of the 42 operational areas of the criminal justice system.

Underlying these targets are a number of measures specific to the Crown Prosecution Service, which demonstrate the contribution of the service to the criminal justice system as a whole and govern the performance of its 42 areas. The targets for 2003–06 are as follows:

Narrowing the justice gap To reduce by 5 per cent. in 2003–04 the proportion of unsuccessful outcomes in defendant cases in both the magistrates courts and the Crown court. Further targets are to be agreed for 2004–06; To increase the number of recorded offences brought to justice for which the offender was a persistent offender at the point of charge; To reduce by 27 per cent. the proportion of ineffective trials in the magistrates courts and in the Crown court; and To introduce an agreed shadow charging scheme in partnership with the police in all areas between March 2003 and December 2003.

Improving Public Confidence To ensure, year on year, that at least 95 per cent. of initial and continuing review decisions comply with the Code for Crown Prosecutors; To increase by five percentage points current CPS compliance with its primary and secondary disclosure responsibilities; To maintain year on year the average time from arrest to sentence for persistent young offenders at or below seventy one days; and To increase year on year the number of areas that have regular engagement with groups that support victims of domestic violence and with minority ethnic communities.

Value for money Specific measures in support of this target are under development.

Other measures

In addition, the service has a number of targets which are not directly related to the Public Service Agreement, as follows: The Crown Prosecution Service is committed, along with its criminal justice partners, to delivery of agreed timeliness targets from charge or laying of information to completion for a range of cases in both the magistrates courts and the Crown court; Subject to the successful rollout of the Compass case tracking system, all Crown Prosecution Service areas to input data providing the capacity to report on the progress and outcome of cases involving allegations of domestic violence, racially and religiously motivated offences, homophobic crime, rape and child abuse; To reply to 95 per cent. of complaints within 10 days of receipt and to 95 per cent. of inquiries from Members of Parliament within 15 days; and Additional measures are under development related to the timeliness and quality of direct communication with victims.

Targets are determined by the Crown Prosecution Service Board, which comprises the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Chief Executive, Chief Crown Prosecutors representing the 42 areas, Headquarters Directors and non-executive Directors.

Performance is reported on a quarterly basis to the newly created Business Development Directorate, which has responsibility for monitoring progress towards targets both at local and national level, and for raising with the 42 areas both matters of concern and aspects of good practice which emerge from the resulting record of delivery.

Serious Fraud Office

The Serious Fraud Office does not have any agencies or non-departmental bodies. Current performance targets are as follows: a caseload of 110 active cases (including appeals) within allocated resources; a long-run average investigation time of 16.5 months; a long-run average prosecution stage length of 14.5 months.

Performance targets are agreed by Ministers and officials, and subject to monitoring by the Director of the Serious Fraud Office, Ministers and officials.

HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate

HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate has clear objectives set out in its Strategic and Business Plan 2003–06 which is available on their website at www.hmcpsi.gov.uk. The objectives of HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate support the Government's overarching objectives for the criminal justice system and the linked Public Service targets.

However, no separate performance targets have been developed for HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate.

The Plan is approved by the Attorney-General and progress is monitored by the Attorney-General's Advisory Board.

Treasury Solicitor's Department

The Treasury Solicitor's Department is required to meet the following performance targets: (a) to introduce a professionally informed client survey methodology for all the Agency's legal work by September 2003; (b) to meet client satisfaction levels as measured by survey results of: at least 95 per cent. For Advisory Divisions at least 90 per cent. For Litigation Division and ECCG; (c) to recover from clients the full operating costs for chargeable services; (d) to maintain corporate staff overheads costs at no more than 15 per cent. of total staff costs; (e) to reduce sick absence per staff year by 30 per cent. by 2003–04 (base year 1998–99); (f) to achieve a level of ill-health retirements by 2005 consistent with or better than the best quartile target of 3.72 retirements per 1,000 employees; (g) to pay all undisputed invoices in accordance with terms or within 30 days.

Targets (a) to (d) were agreed between the Department, the Attorney-General and HM Treasury as part of the Department's Spending Review 2002 settlement. Targets (e) to (g) were set centrally by Ministers for all Government Departments.

Achievement against all targets is monitored by the Department's Board and the Attorney-General; and reported to Parliament and the Public in the Law Officer's spring Departmental Report and the Treasury Solicitor's Department's Annual Report.