7 Feb 2001 : Column: 515W

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 7 February 2001


Crown Prosecution Service

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General what the average cost was for each CPS prosecution in (a) Wales and (b) England in each of the last five years. [148668]

The Solicitor-General: The table shows the average cost in pounds of proceedings in respect of all defendants whose case was completed in Wales and England in each of the last five years. The costs are simple averages, and take no account of variations in the weight of cases handled. Separate costs are shown for cases completed in magistrates courts and in the Crown court.


Magistrates courtsCrown court

(1) To December 2000

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General what average period of time was taken between the decision to prosecute and the case coming to full court hearing for CPS cases in (a) Wales and (b) England in each of the last five years. [148669]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service does not collect information about the time taken from the decision to prosecute to trial, but relies on the Time Intervals Survey conducted by the Lord Chancellor's Department. This includes details of the average time from charge or first laying of information to the first court listing of the case. The figures for indictable cases in magistrates courts, including cases prosecuted by agencies other than the Crown Prosecution Service, are as follows:

Average number of days from charge or laying of information to first court listing

YearEnglandWalesEngland and Wales

These figures show a marked improvement in the time taken to list cases for the first time, largely associated with the Narey reforms which have accelerated the process for all cases. All agencies within the Criminal Justice System are working to secure further improvement, and additional funding has been provided this year to enable the CPS to appoint case progression officers, and cover additional magistrates court sittings to accelerate the process, particularly of youth cases.

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Mr. Kidney: To ask the Solicitor-General what advice the police authorities sought from the Crown Prosecution Service; and what response the service gave regarding the bringing of criminal proceedings following the death of Colin Griffiths of Stafford on 26 December 1994. [148661]

The Solicitor-General: In November 2000, Staffordshire police submitted a file to the local Crown Prosecution Service, seeking advice as to whether a prosecution should be brought against any individual in respect of the death of Mr. Griffiths. CPS Staffordshire referred this matter to CPS National Headquarters, where the case is now being reviewed in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. Advice will be given to the police once the case has been reviewed and a decision made. Preliminary advice regarding any further inquiries will be given to the police on 8 February 2001.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will list for each of the last three years how many cases brought by the CPS (a) before magistrates and (b) before Crown courts were dismissed on the grounds that the CPS had not prepared the necessary documents concerned; and if he will make a statement. [148651]

The Solicitor-General: The Crown Prosecution Service holds central records showing the reasons for dismissal due to there being no case to answer in magistrates' courts and for non-jury acquittals in the Crown court. However, this information does not include a separate count of the number of these outcomes which resulted from failure to prepare the necessary documentation.

The tables show the reasons for which cases resulted in dismissal owing to no case to answer or non-jury acquittal, during the two years for which figures are held. Cases are divided into four broad categories; insufficient evidence (including cases in which an essential legal element was missing from the prosecution case), public interest, unable to proceed (for example, because a key witness failed to attend court), and a miscellaneous category. Within each of these headings more specific reasons are then given.

The main reason for dismissal due to no case to answer in magistrates courts was that a victim failed to come up to proof when giving evidence: this amounted to 18.9 per cent. of all such outcomes in 1999-2000 and 13.5 per cent. up to December 2000.

Cases resulted in a non-jury acquittal in the Crown court mainly because a victim failed to attend the trial (13.6 per cent. of all non-jury acquittals) or refused to give evidence (12.1 per cent. in 1999-2000 and 13.5 per cent. up to December 2000).

CPS records show that only a small number of adverse outcomes result from a failure on the part of the

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prosecution. During 1999-2000, the CPS identified 149 dismissals due to no case to answer, and 891 non-jury acquittals, as being attributable to a failing on the part of the Service. The CPS and the police work together, using

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joint performance management techniques to identify the reasons for a failed case and to devise local strategies, often involving guidance and training, to bring about improvement.

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Reasons for dismissals in case to answer in Magistrates courts

1999-2000 (2)2000-01
Insufficient evidence78872.656881.1
Inadmissible evidence--breach of PACE252.3142.0
Inadmissible evidence= other131.2111.6
Legal element missing1039.59113.0
Other evidential element missing14113.08512.1
Unreliable identification867.9598.4
Victim fails to come up to proof20518.916123.0
Other civilian witness fails to come up to proof14813.610615.1
Police witness fails to come up to proof676.2415.9
Public Interest121.120.3
Defendant with serious medical problem10.100
Effect on victims physical/mental health10.110.1
Other indictment of sentence90.810.1
Informer or other PII issue10.100
Unable to proceed918.4395.6
Victim fails to attend393.6121.7
Other civilian witness fails to attend333.0152.1
Victim intimidation--------
Other civilian witness intimidation0020.3
Victim refuses to give evidence90.840.6
Other civilian witness refuses to give evidence100.960.9
Other Reasons19518.09113.0
Poor legal presentation90.830.4
Poor police presentation181.791.3

(2) To December

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Reasons for non-jury acquittals and bind overs in the Crown court

1999-2000 (3)2000-2001
Insufficient evidence3,67137.22,70136.7
Inadmissible evidence--breach of PACE1661.71081.5
Inadmissible evidence= other2542.62233.0
Legal element missing6506.64526.1
Other evidential element missing8658.86538.9
Unreliable identification7067.25327.2
Victim fails to come up to proof6656.74836.6
Other civilian witness fails to come up to proof3213.32162.9
Police witness fails to come up to proof440.4340.5
Public Interest1,35713.81,03714.1
Defendant with serious medical problem1841.91502.0
Effect on victims physical/mental health1281.3881.2
Other indictment or sentence8949.16979.5
Informer or other PII issue1511.51021.4
Unable to proceed3,24532.92,56934.9
Victim fails to attend1,34413.61,00113.6
Other civilian witness fails to attend5085.14005.4
Victim intimidation180.240.1
Other civilian witness intimidation270.3210.3
Victim refuses to give evidence1,19112.199013.5
Other civilian witness refuses to give evidence1571.61532.1
Other Reasons1,59216.11.04714.2
Poor legal presentation50.150.1
Poor police presentation300.3150.2

(3) To December

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7 Feb 2001 : Column: 519W

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