Select Committee on Home Affairs Third Special Report


SESSION 1998-99


Published 29 March 1999. Government response (published as HC 569) received 16 June 1999

  The following seeks to cover all four conclusions and recommendations on which the Committee has requested an update.


  2.  In its Report (paragraph 35) the Committee noted that the Commission had at that time (March 1999) "a substantial and growing backlog of cases waiting to be dealt with". The case accumulation has since fallen. The number of cases awaiting review that month was 1,176. This figure peaked in May 1999 at 1,206. By January 2000 it had fallen to 1,015, and by March to 906. It then rose again to 953 in June, and fell back to 901 in August.

  3.  The Committee also noted that applicants were waiting around two years for a full review to begin. One of the Commission's goals for 1999-2000 was to keep the average time an applicant in custody waited for a detailed review of their case to begin to below 12 months. The Commission in fact succeeded in reducing this average to 10 months. However, at the end of March 2000, the Commission was allocating cases for screening (to see if they could be reviewed in five working days or fewer) that had generally waited 12 months, and was allocating cases for more resource-intensive detailed review that had generally taken 27 months to reach that point.


  4.  As the Committee knows from hearing evidence from the Commission in April 2000, in March this year the Home Secretary increased the Commission's allocated grant-in aid for 2000-01 by 9 per cent to £5.415 million, and gave the Commission authority to increase the number of Case Review Managers from 42 to 50. The Commission's funding for 2001-04 will be decided as part of the outcome of the Government's Spending Review 2000. The Commission remains of the view that its complement of Case Review Managers should be 60.


  5.  The Home Secretary agreed to a Business Plan for the Commission for 1999-2000 in which the Commission set itself the performance targets of deciding 1,000 cases, having 500 under detailed review by the end of the year, and (as mentioned above) ensuring that the average time an applicant in custody waited for a detailed review of their case to begin was not more than 12 months. In the event, the Commission completed 1,103 cases during the year, had 452 under detailed review at the end of the year, and reduced the average waiting time for applicants in custody to 10 months. In 1999-2000 also, the Commission reduced the average number of working days that elapsed between the beginning and end of a detailed review from 141 in the first quarter to 112 in the fourth.

  6.  In October 1999, the Department asked the Commission to set out the levels of additional resource it believed necessary to meet one or more goals for the reduction of its case accumulation. In response, the Commission presented three scenarios, each assuming varying increases in the number of Case Review Managers, and in each case projecting by when this complement would allow case completions to match intake for various categories of cases.

  7.  The Home Secretary has not yet agreed the Commission's Business Plan for 2000-01. We are looking for this to include clear targets for the number of cases the Commission aims to complete this year.

Justice and Victims Unit

October 2000

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