HL Deb 17 March 2005 vol 670 cc58-9WS
Lord Falconer of Thoroton

I am pleased to announce today plans for the introduction of a National Enforcement Service to take forward my commitment to ensuring the fullest possible compliance with court orders. For too long enforcement of court orders has been patchy and flawed. We have made real improvements in enforcement. The payment rate of fines now at 80 per cent compared to just over 50 per cent two years ago. But there is more to be done. The time has come for the next stage of reform

My proposals involve the introduction of a robust national framework to deliver a single consistent enforcement process for the whole of England and Wales, and to deal robustly with offenders who fail to attend court, default on fine payments and breach community penalty orders. The launch of the new unified Her Majesty's Court Service next month will allow us to put in place a cross-criminal justice system enforcement team that is more distinct, professional and better skilled. The specific remit of the National Enforcement Service will be to bear down on the hard core of offenders who consistently attempt to flout their obligations to the courts. This does not mean a new agency or department, but a better, more collaborative approach to tackling enforcement, which builds on the lessons learned from national initiatives including the recent "Operation Payback". Enforcement staff in the magistrates' courts together with the police, the National Probation Service and other criminal justice agencies will form the core of the service.

Improving sentence compliance is key to building public confidence in the criminal justice system and the National Enforcement Service will do just that. The National Enforcement Service framework will be tested first across a region from April 2006 with the aim of full national rollout in 2007–08.