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19 Sept 2002 : Column 78W—continued

Probation Service

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much money is owed within the probation service; and (a) by and (b) to whom it is owed. [73225]

Hilary Benn: The Home Office only has records relating to the outstanding debts on capital raised for Probation Service investment, dating from the period before 1990. The Home Office pays local authorities a grant in respect of the principal and interest on this capital financing debt. A table of the local authority debts, as at 1 April 2001, is provided in the table. Between 1990 and 2001, capital debt was financed by the local authority capital financing standard spending assessment (SSA). Since April 2001 however, local authorities are no longer responsible for Probation Service capital investment.

With the advent of the National Probation Service from 1 April 2001, the National Probation Directorate is now collecting and collating the information relating to the 2001–02 accounts for the 42 local probation boards, including any creditors. When this exercise has been completed and audited, the consolidated accounts will be laid before Parliament.

Pre-1990 System Loan Debt Outstanding at 1 April 2001

Probation ServiceAmount
Bristol City Council430,722
Bedfordshire CC133,011
West Berkshire DC462,820
Buckinghamshire CC494,377
Cambridgeshire CCN/A
Cornwall CC453,636
Derbyshire CC240,286
Devon CC448,056
Dorset CC112,802
Durham CC279,329
Essex CC295,496
Gloucestershire CC180,780
Hampshire CC228,181
Worcestershire CC177,729
Hertfordshire CC7,334
East Riding of Yorkshire Council486,629
Kent CC164,705
Lancashire CC821,006
Leicestershire CC33,726
Lincolnshire CC129,383
Norfolk CC344,554
Northamptonshire CC251,273
Northumberland CC11,01,053
South Tyneside MDC268,905
Oxfordshire CC74,831
Shropshire CC151,943
Somerset CC431,524
Staffordshire CC1,067,882
Surrey CC15,230
East Sussex CC72,207
Middlesbrough UA566,364
Warwickshire CC75,529
Walsall MDC1,718,807
Wiltshire CC139,003
Receiver of the Metropolitan Police District3,522,361
LB Croydon67,801
Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames6,284
LB Barnet492,116
LB Enfield22,322
LB Hillingdon19,713
LB Hounslow11,917
LB Newham12,682
LB Redbridge234,737
LB Waltham Forest20,626
Bolton MDC393,825
Bury MDC269,132
Manchester City Council632,816
Oldham MDC322,559
Rochdale MDC307,784
Salford City Council331,033
Stockport MDC431,116
Tameside MDC2,183,018
Trafford MDC3,893,774
Wigan MDC458,527
North Yorkshire CC59,430
Barnsley MDC165,094
Doncaster MDC131,099
Rotherham MDC82,032
Sheffield City Council175,721
Bradford MDC172,178
Calderdale MDC68,726
Kirkless MDC139,253
Leeds City Council259,145
Wakefield MDC113,580
Carmarthenshire CBC164,927
Bridgend CBC4,069
Cardiff City Council9,843
Neath Port Talbot CBC365,970
Newport CBC194,692
Flintshire CBC101,809
Powys CBC92,092

19 Sept 2002 : Column 79W

Throckmorton Accumulation Centre

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the health and environmental implications of locating (a) pregnant and (b) other asylum seekers at Throckmorton, with particular reference to (i) the Hill of Moor landfill site and (ii) the foot and mouth disease burial site; and if he will make a statement. [72920]

Beverley Hughes: These issues will be assessed as part of the planning process.

Child-related Work

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what strategy he has to ensure that all people who work with children have the necessary skills and experience to do the job. [72909]

Mr. Denham: The Government's objective is that all those who work with children and young people should be supported and trained appropriately. There is already substantial investment in training for professionals in the public sector who work with children and young people but we are always looking at how we can do more. For example, we are currently developing proposals aimed at bringing consistency to the training and development of all school support staff, which will be the subject of consultation during the Autumn term; we are also introducing a 3-year degree level qualification in social work in England from September 2003 to replace the current 2-year Diploma courses.

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The Cross-cutting Review of Children at Risk, within the Government's Spending Review 2002, recommended that there should be a common core of competence and knowledge shared by all who work with children and young people. CYPU is responsible for taking this recommendation forward, in close conjunction with lead Government Departments and with the Sector Skills Councils who will be responsible for Occupational Standards across the children's sector.

Financial Services Sector

Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Minister for Women how many fair pay champions have been nominated to spread best practice in the financial services sector. [70616]

Ms Hewitt: Fair pay champions have been appointed to assist the Government's drive towards achieving equal pay for women through the promotion and sharing of good practice in their sectors. We are currently working with the Equal Opportunities Commission to understand how the pay gap varies from sector to sector, including the financial services sector, and to support sectors in closing the gender pay gap.

No Fair Pay champion has yet been appointed in the Financial Services Sector but we do have a Fair Pay Champion in the Retail Finance sector, a sector currently undergoing major organisational change and one with the highest pay gap at 42 per cent.

Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Minister for Women how many financial sector employers in the (a) public and (b) private sector have carried out pay reviews with a view to ensuring equal pay since 2000. [70615]

Ms Hewitt: In relation to the public sector, the Government has committed all Civil Service departments and agencies to undertake an equal pay review and have in place action plans to close any equal pay gaps, by April 2003. Departments and agencies are at various stages of reviewing their pay systems. In relation to the private sector, we do not have this information and it would involve disproportionate cost to provide it. However the Kingsmill Report included examples of financial sector organisations which have carried out employment and pay reviews or are committed to doing so. The Equal Opportunities Commission is also supporting organisations in conducting Equal Pay reviews and is planning to monitor progress by employers.


Angus Robertson: To ask the Minister for Women when the EU Committee for the action programme to promote gender equality is next due to meet; whether representatives of the Scottish Executive (a) have been and (b) are members of it; and if she will make a statement. [67745]

Ms Hewitt: The EU Equality Advisory Committee will meet on 9 October. An official will attend this meeting from the Department's Women and Equality Unit.

Each Member State delegation is considered to be one committee member. Each member can not be represented by more than one person. However, with the Chairperson's permission, the delegations may be accompanied by experts, at the expense of the Member State concerned.

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The Equal Opportunities Commission is separately represented at the Equality Advisory Committee.

The Scottish Executive is regularly consulted on, and is fully involved in discussions, at official and Ministerial level, with the Department on the formulation of EU policy which touched on matters which fall within the responsibilities of the Scottish Executive.


Crown Prosecution Service

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General (1) what weaknesses have been identified in the CPS complaints handling procedure; what has been done to address the weaknesses; and what performance evaluations have taken place in each CPS region to ensure that corrective action has been effective; [60219]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 10 June 2002]: Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HM CPSI), which undertakes regular inspections of all CPS Areas and a study by the Joint Standing Committee on Good Practice, (which incorporates membership from both HM CPSI and the CPS) along with the complaints statistics that are compiled on a quarterly basis and are included in the CPS Annual Report reveal the following weaknesses in the CPS complaint's procedure:

The main recommendations suggested include the use of a standard framework for logging complaints and that there should be periodic reviews of complaints by senior management to assess the timeliness and quality of responses to complaints and to analyse any developing trends with a view to identifying aspects of performance and processes which may need improvement or revision.

Performance evaluation is an ongoing process which is assessed by HM CPSI when they revisit a specific CPS Area. HM CPSI reports on CPS Areas can be obtained on request to the relevant CPS Area.

The following good practises within the CPS complaints procedure were identified nationally:

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A Good Practice guide, approved by the CPS Board in June, will shortly be circulated to staff via the CPS intranet.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General if she records correspondence and complaints primarily by the name of the sender; how complaints from the public have influenced the processes employed by the CPS, the Solicitor-General and the Attorney General; and if complaints have been reviewed by (a) the HMCPSI and (b) law officers in an internal review. [59338]

The Solicitor-General: All correspondence (including complaints) received in the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers is recorded in a mail index by name. It is then assigned to a file according to the subject matter and source. The Law Officers consider what action is required on case-by-case basis depending on the nature of the complaint.

All CPS Areas maintain a register of complaints received from the public. They have a discretion to record them alphabetically or chronologically according to when the complaint was received. Area inspections by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate routinely include scrutiny of the complaints register, as well as the timeliness and quality of responses to complaints. This aspect of the scrutiny by HMCPSI is undertaken with the assistance of lay inspectors.

Although not mandatory, the Crown Prosecution Service encourages managers to periodically review and analyse complaints received with a view to identifying aspects of performance and processes which may need improvement or revision. The Joint Standing Committee on Good Practice (which incorporates membership from both HMCPSI and the CPS) has recently concluded a study of the processes within the CPS for handling complaints. Its proposed guidance was approved by the CPS Board in June. Considerable emphasis is placed on the scope for continuous improvement which is achievable through proper analyses of, and response to complaints.

In view of the scrutiny of complaints handling effected by HMCPSI, the Law Officers have not found it necessary to instigate an internal review of the CPS complaints procedure.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General what inquiries are being held by the CPS concerning the measures needed to enable vulnerable or intimidated witnesses to give their best evidence. [60228]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 10 June 2002]: The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 provides for special measures to be made available to vulnerable or intimidated witnesses to enable them to give their best evidence. The Government has announced that these measures are to be introduced on a phased basis from 24 July 2002.

The CPS is not holding any inquiries on these measures, but Areas are having discussions with their partner agencies in the Criminal Justice System to ensure both the effective implementation of the special measures and that appropriate action is taken where a witness is vulnerable or intimidated.

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Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General which CPS areas have not reduced the time taken from arrest to sentence of persistent young offenders from 142 to 71 days; and what action has been taken by each failing region to comply with Government targets. [60224]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 10 June 2002]: The time taken from arrest to sentence of persistent young offenders exceeds 71 days in 13 of the 42 CPS Areas: Avon and Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, London, Northamptonshire, Surrey, Sussex, Thames Valley and Warwickshire.

The Crown Prosecution Service has implemented measures for contributing to the reduction of delay which draw upon the recommendations of good practice made by HMCPS Inspectorate in its report published in May 2002, including the use of Youth Specialists to identify and review cases involving persistent young offenders and to expedite those cases at court and participation in inter agency steering groups at strategic and practitioner levels to monitor the progress of cases involving persistent young offenders and to promote joint strategies to overcome barriers to progress.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General what training CPS staff have received in achieving Best Evidence guidance on preparing for and conducting interviews with vulnerable and intimidated witnesses; and which and how many staff have been trained on each CPS area. [60227]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 10 June 2002]: The CPS will not be involved in interviewing vulnerable or intimidated witnesses, however, the guidance for achieving "Best Evidence" will be used by lawyers when reviewing video recorded evidence.

The training consists of an e-learning package, followed by a three day practical course. To date 269 members of staff have received this training. These staff members are comprised of both caseworkers and lawyers from across all the Areas.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General how each area has responded to the CPS action plan on diversity; and how this response addressed the issues raised in the report by Sylvia Denman and the Commission for Racial Equality. [60225]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 10 June 2002]: All CPS Areas have produced their own Race Equality Action Plans. Areas have set employment targets for 2002 and 2005 for minority ethnic staff.

The CPS Race Equality Scheme (RES) was launched on 14 May 2002. The RES is a national three-year strategy on race. All the recommendations of the Commission for Racial Equality and Sylvia Denman have been accepted by the CPS and those which have not already been implemented are included in the RES. All Areas must ensure that they comply with the national RES.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General what assessment she has made of the impact of training programmes on the (a) efficiency and (b) effectiveness of each CPS region. [59350]

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The Solicitor-General [holding answer 12 June 2002]: CPS training is provided and assessed both nationally and locally. Assessment of the impact of training programmes is undertaken at a number of levels in the CPS. National training programmes are monitored and evaluated centrally to assess their effectiveness overall in meeting their aims and supporting the achievement of business plan objectives.

In addition to the national training plan, Areas identify their own local training needs and solutions, which they believe will help improve their effectiveness and efficiency. This is set out in Area Training Plan or programme. Area management teams assess the overall impact of local training events and programmes as part of the Business planning and review process.

Staff and line managers have joint responsibility for assessing the impact of training on individual performance. These reviews take place as part of the appraisal process and training is discussed at the annual and interim performance reviews.

41 Areas and HQ are accredited as Investors in People, and as such meet the baseline standard for evaluation of training and the assessment of its impact on performance.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make a statement on the work of each CPS region in relation to the conduct of prosecutions and on the related assessments made. [59464]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 12 June 2002]: The role of the CPS is to prosecute cases firmly, fairly and effectively, when there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and when it is in the public interest to do so. The Code for Crown Prosecutors, which is issued under section 10 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, is of fundamental importance to each CPS Prosecutor. It provides guidance on the general principles to be applied in every case irrespective of geography.

Her Majesty's CPS Inspectorate assesses the application of the Code in each Area inspection. Areas are inspected biennially. In his annual report for the year ending September 2001, HM Chief Inspector of the CPS reported that for cases sampled during Area inspections during the year, his inspectors were satisfied in 98.9 per cent. of cases sampled that the initial review decision was in accordance with the evidential test in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, and that the public interest test was satisfied in 99.9 per cent. of cases sampled.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General what nature of training is provided for Crown prosecutors with respect to the code for Crown prosecutors; and what assessment has been carried out on the effectiveness of this training programme. [59337]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 12 June 2002]: An Induction Course for Lawyers is delivered to all new prosecutors within the Crown Prosecutors within 2 months of recruitment, which includes a session specifically on the Role of the Crown Prosecutor of which the Code for Crown Prosecutors is the core element.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of these training programmes is assessed in three ways:

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Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General what assessment she has made of how the most qualified lawyers in the CPS have spent their time since the production of Sir Iain Glidewell's report in June 1998. [59463]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 12 June 2002]: The Crown Prosecution Service does not record in detail the individual tasks on which individual lawyers are deployed. Following the recommendations in Sir Iain Glidewell's Report the Crown Prosecution Service has been putting in place operational structures that enable its lawyers to spend more time advising the police and preparing the more serious prosecutions, by establishing co-located Criminal Justice Units and Trial Units for Crown Court work. In addition, the government proposes to implement the recommendation of Sir Robin Auld that the CPS should take over responsibility from the police for determining the charge from the outset of the case, which the CPS and police are currently piloting. These structural changes are enabling more early legal advice before charge, and more focus on casework preparation in more serious cases to ensure that prosecutions are built on secure ground.

By the end of March 2002, lawyers in 31 CPS Areas had been assigned to Crown Court work in 54 discrete Trial Units; and 42 co-located Criminal Justice Units had been established in 20 Areas. As at the end of June 2002 some 394 lawyers had qualified as Higher Courts Advocates, with the right to conduct cases in the Crown Court.

To help facilitate this shift in gravity, by the end of June 2002 some 178 members of the CPS who are not lawyers had been approved to work as Designated Caseworkers, trained to review and present a defined

19 Sept 2002 : Column 86W

range of the most straightforward cases in the Magistrates' Courts, freeing up lawyer time for more serious cases. In addition, also reflecting Sir Iain Glidewell's Report, the CPS now employs an Area Business Manager in each Area, and a growing number of Unit Business Managers in Areas with Trial Units, enabling lawyer managers, including Chief Crown Prosecutors, to delegate some of their administrative responsibilities and devote more of their time to casework. There remains a cadre of Special Casework lawyers, and the lawyers in the Casework Directorate continue to advise on and conduct cases ranging from terrorism to extradition, to serious fraud.

More Crown Prosecutors are benefiting from greater exposure to Crown Court proceedings and their skills, experience and expertise in dealing with the more serious cases are being developed.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General what assessment she has carried out of (a) the quality and (b) the timeliness of production of the case files received from the police within each CPS region for (i) 2000–01 and (ii) 2001–02. [59462]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 12 June 2002]: The statistics on timeliness and quality of police files submitted to the CPS are published by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary each quarter. The data is broken down by the 43 police forces; a table of the data is attached to this answer.

In 2000–01 the percentage of files received within the time guidelines ranged from 50–99 per cent.; and number which contained sufficient evidence to proceed or were fully satisfactory ranged from 74–98 per cent.

In 2001–02 those same figures ranged from 47–100 per cent. and 33–98 per cent. respectively.

These wide disparities are a matter of concern. The Joint Performance Monitoring process is currently under review to ensure the measuring systems are fair and accurate.

Quality and timeliness of case files 2001–02

Timeliness and QualityTimelinessQuality
Percentage of files within Pre-Trial Issues time limits and fully satisfactory or sufficient to proceed (per cent.)Percentage of files within Pre-Trial Issues time limits (per cent.)Percentage of files fully satisfactory or sufficient to proceed (per cent.)
Avon and Somerset65 71 90
Bedfordshire87 95 89
Cambridgeshire46 58 81
Cheshire80 87 92
City of London85 86 98
Cleveland77 87 87
Cumbria82 85 96
Derbyshire73 77 95
Devon and Cornwall54 61 85
Dorset54 70 75
Dyfed-Powys64 70 90
Essex62 67 85
Gloucestershire59 70 84
Greater Manchestern/an/an/a
Gwent48 57 82
Hampshire68 70 96
Hertfordshire49 100 49
Humberside44 55 79
Lancashire61 66 92
Leicestershire92 96 96
Lincolnshire73 78 92
Merseyside50 71 71
Metropolitan Policen/an/an/a
Norfolk64 69 93
Northamptonshire85 86 97
Northumbria86 100 86
North Wales65 69 93
North Yorkshire75 86 87
Nottinghamshire73 77 93
South Wales84 90 90
South Yorkshire58 62 94
Staffordshire64 71 89
Suffolk81 90 90
Surrey57 63 89
Sussex76 92 82
Thames Valleyn/an/an/a
Warwickshire91 99 92
West Mercia43 47 89
West Midlands49 63 78
West Yorkshire33 100 33
Wiltshire60 67 87



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Mr. Laws: To ask the Solicitor-General what her estimate is of the proportion of CPS cases resulting in a non-jury acquittal in the Crown Court which are attributable to failures in the review process in each year since 1997; and if she will make a statement. [69215]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 11 July 2002]: In 1999 the Crown Prosecution Service introduced an adverse outcomes analysis system. This provides CPS Areas with a consistent framework within which responsibility may be allocated for the failure of cases through a process of self-assessment, including an indication of the number of non-jury acquittals attributable to failings in the CPS review. The following table shows these outcomes as a proportion of all cases completed in the Crown Court during the three years for which figures are available:

Year ending March:


These figures suggest that failings in the CPS review account for a small and diminishing proportion of non-jury acquittals.

However, the findings in the HMCPSI Annual Report for 2001–02 suggest that the level of foreseeable adverse outcomes is higher. Figures published in the Report show that 33.57 per cent. of adverse outcomes were foreseeable, and that 19.02 per cent. should have been the subject of some remedial action or dropping the case sooner. These figures relate to a different reporting period, smaller sample and by reference to a different test than those gathered by the CPS. The disparity is greatly exaggerated in presentation by the fact that CPS use a percentage of their total caseload, while the HMCPSI look at only a sample and calculate as a proportion of the adverse cases. Nonetheless, this disparity is a cause for concern.

The Service is conscious that its self-assessment procedures require the support of more sensitive information. The CPS and the police have begun to develop a joint case outcomes analysis which will build on existing procedures and will focus on avoidable case failures. Under this system it is intended that the reasons for non-jury acquittals will be jointly analysed to identify trends and individual and more general training needs, as part of a wider strategy for the identification of good practice. The process will be supported by more sophisticated management information generated through the forthcoming Compass Case Management system, which is scheduled to be rolled out across all CPS Areas between April and December 2003.

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Mr. Laws: To ask the Solicitor-General what estimate she has made of the proportion of Crown Prosecution Service cases dismissed on a submission of no case to answer which are attributable to failures in the review process in each year since 1997; and if she will make a statement. [69208]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 11 July 2002]: The analysis of adverse outcomes, described in my response to the hon. Member's related question on non-jury acquittals (UIN 69215), includes an assessment of the number of dismissals no case to answer attributable to failings in the CPS review. The following table shows these outcomes as a proportion of all cases completed in the magistrates' courts during the three years for which figures are available:

Year ending March:

20000.010 per cent.
20010.008 per cent.
20020.011 per cent.

As the above figures show, dismissals for no case to answer attributable to failings in the review process form

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only a very small part of the overall caseload of the Service. However, there was a small increase in the level of these outcomes during 2001–2002, from 0.008 per cent. of the overall caseload, or 8 per 100,000, to 0.011 per cent., or 11 per 100,000. While this trend is not considered significant, it does show that there is no room for complacency. The arrangements for improved information on case outcomes described in my response to the Hon Member's related question will provide CPS managers, at a local and national level, with a better analysis of the reasons for case failures, and will strengthen their ability to identify and resolve any areas of concern.

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Solicitor-General what recent assessment has been made of the adequacy of the resources available to the Crown Prosecution Service; and what steps are being taken to increase Crown Prosecution Service efficiency and its ability to proceed with cases for trial. [72129]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 24 July 2002]: An assessment of the adequacy of the resources available to the Crown Prosecution Service was made for the purposes of the 2002 Spending Review, the outcome of which was announced on 15 July. The White Paper, Justice For All, set out a far-reaching program of change for the criminal justice system and for the Crown Prosecution Service. This programme will improve CPS efficiency and ability to proceed with cases for trial including: closer working with the police and increasing the number of Criminal Justice Units collocated with the police and the number of Trial Units as envisaged in the Glidewell report on the CPS; providing earlier and better advice to the police on charging and giving the CPS the responsibility to determine the charge in all but the most routine cases. Early indications from 6 pilot Areas show that giving the CPS the responsibility to determine the charge will lead to significant improvements in performance; changes to trial procedures to improve efficiency and effectiveness; and the development of the CPS's IT system, Compass, which is an essential part of a more joined up approach to information technology across the criminal justice system.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General as a percentage of staff employed within each CPS area and region, how many are crown prosecutors; and how many crown prosecutors within each region secured accreditation as higher court advocates in (a) 1999–2000, (b) 2000–01, and (c) 2001–02. [59344]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 12 June 2002]: Copies of Tables 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 have been placed in the Library. The percentage of Crown Prosecutors employed in each Area and Region is set out in Tables 1, 2, 3 and 4. The number of lawyers who have gained accreditation from 1 April 1999 until 31 March 2002 is set out in Table 5. The number of higher court advocates in each area is set out in Table 6.

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