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Crown Prosecution Service

Mr. Amess: To ask the Solicitor-General who the director of (a) the Crown Prosecution Service, (b) the Crown Prosecution Service in Southend and (c) the Essex Crown Prosecution Service is; what relevant specialist qualifications each holds; and what the career of each has been to date. [37761]

The Solicitor-General: Ken Macdonald QC is the Head of the Crown Prosecution Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions. He is a barrister and was called to the Bar in 1978. He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1997. He joined the CPS on 1 November 2003.

The District Crown Prosecutor for the South East Prosecution Team in Southend is Diane Stenning. She joined the CPS as a Legal Trainee in 1991 and was admitted as a solicitor in 1993. She transferred to CPS Essex in 1998.

The post of Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Essex is currently vacant. From 1999 until September 2005 this post was held by John Bell. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1974 and until the formation of the CPS in 1986 was employed by the Durham Police Authority. The post is currently being held on a temporary basis by Paula Abrahams. She was called to the Bar in 1987 and joined the CPS in the same year as a newly qualified lawyer.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Solicitor-General what action he takes to prevent the bringing of inappropriate (a) higher and (b) lesser charges by the Crown Prosecution Service. [38033]

The Solicitor-General: Crown prosecutors must apply the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the Director of Public Prosecution's Guidance on Charging to determine if a case proceeds and, if so, on what charge.

Statutory Charging was brought in by the Criminal Justice Act 2003. As a result, dedicated experienced prosecutors now work with the police on cases from start to finish. They advise the police on lines of inquiry and advise on the evidence that should be gathered. In all but minor cases, the prosecutor decides the charge and will review the case continually. Fewer charges will be amended, and fewer charges will be dropped.

Statutory Charging arrangements are being implemented in phases across the 42 Criminal Justice Areas by a joint national CPS/ACPO team. To date, 28 areas operate Statutory Charging. The remaining 14 areas are operating Shadow Charging schemes (whereby charging is operated on a non-mandatory basis, mirroring as closely as possible Statutory Charging arrangements between 9 am and 5 pm Monday to Friday). These remaining areas are scheduled to move to Statutory Charging by April 2006.

Public Interest

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Solicitor-General what criteria are used to determine matters of public interest in criminal cases. [38704]

The Solicitor-General: Normally, in any case where there is sufficient evidence to afford a reasonable prospect of conviction the public interest would require
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prosecution. However, in each case the prosecutor will weigh the considerations in favour of prosecution against those that considerations against prosecution. The Code for Prosecutors published by the Public Prosecution Service, and which is available on their website at and copies of which are kept in the Library, set out examples of what those considerations may be. The list is not exhaustive.

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Solicitor-General how many cases since 1997 have been discontinued in Northern Ireland on the basis of the public interest; and what the charges were in each case. [38725]

The Solicitor-General: This information was not kept by the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland and could be compiled only at disproportionate cost by the individual examination of all files discontinued since 1997. This information has started to be kept by the Public Prosecution Service. The only figures currently available are for the areas of Fermanagh and Tyrone and for Greater Belfast and are for the period 1 April to 30 September 2005. Prosecution decisions in respect of 7,327 individuals were taken over that period. Of that number 1,510 resulted in decisions of no prosecution and, of that number, 164 (10.9 per cent.) were made on grounds of public interest. This represents 2.2 per cent. of the total number of individuals dealt with.

Details of each case could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Solicitor-General how many cases have been discontinued on grounds of the public interest in England and Wales in each year since 1997; and what the charges were in each case. [38727]

The Solicitor-General: Figures on the reasons for discontinuance, including the number dropped on the grounds of the public interest, are available only with effect from April 2004. The following table shows this information for 2004–05, and for 2005–06 up until 15 December 2005.

The Crown Prosecution Service does not hold records of the outcome of each individual charge. However, a record is maintained of the principal offence with which each defendant was charged, divided into 12 categories. The table also shows discontinuances on public interest grounds in each of these 12 groupings.

The table both shows the volume of these outcomes, and expresses them as a proportion of all completed cases during the two years.
Discontinuance in magistrates' courts and crown court on the grounds of public interestBy principal offence category

A. Homicide70.0
B. Offences Against The Person1,4760.1
C. Sexual Offences1410.0
D. Burglary3360.0
E. Robbery870.0
F. Theft And Handling1,9490.2
G. Fraud And Forgery1020.0
H. Criminal Damage1,0380.1
1. Drugs Offences4420.0
J. Public Order Offences1,5020.1
K. All Other Offences (excluding Motoring)1,0760.1
L. Motoring Offences3,7260.3
Total11,8821 .0
2005–06 (to 15 December 2005)
A Homicide80.0
B. Offences Against The Person2,5280.3
C. Sexual Offences2120.0
D. Burglary4690.1
E. Robbery760.0
F. Theft And Handling2,9500.4
G. Fraud And Forgery1490.0
H. Criminal Damage1,5730.2
I. Drugs Offences5640.1
J. Public Order Offences2,5530.3
K. All Other Offences (excluding Motoring)1,6260.2
L. Motoring Offences5,4090.7

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Spy Ring (Stormont)

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Solicitor-General if the Government of the Irish Republic was (a) consulted and (b) informed of the decision to withdraw the prosecution of those charged with running a spy ring at Stormont in 2002. [38709]

The Solicitor-General: There was no consultation with the Irish Government in respect of the decision to end this prosecution. They were informed the day of the hearing at which the charges were withdrawn.

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Solicitor-General on how many occasions (a) the Director of Public Prosecutions and (b) the Senior Crown Counsel discussed with the Attorney-General the prosecution of the case against those charged with running a spy ring at Stormont in 2002. [38710]

The Solicitor-General: In the exercise of his statutory duty of superintendence, the Attorney-General is kept informed by the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland of significant cases through correspondence, meetings and by telephone, both direct and through officials. Information on the exact number of times this case was raised is not available.

The Attorney-General did not discuss this matter directly with the Senior Counsel instructed to prosecute this case although he had sight of counsel's advice as part of the papers provided to him by the Director.


Appeals Service

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the national targets are for the Appeals Service; and what the performance of relevant offices in South Devon has been against those targets. [34032]

Mrs. McGuire: This is a matter for Christina Townsend, Chief Executive of the Appeals Service. She will reply to the hon. Member.
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Letter from Christina Townsend, dated 19 December 2005:

Appeals Service Secretary of State target
for 2004–05
Cardiff Appeals Processing Office performance
The number of cases over 24 weeks old as at 1 April 2004 will be reduced by at least 15 per cent. by 31 March 2005A 25 per cent. reduction in
older cases was achieved
For cases returned by the Commissioner, the average waiting time for an appeal to be re-heard will be no more than 8 weeks from the date of return to the Appeals Service(31)6.5 weeks
The average waiting time for an appeal to be heard will be no more than 11 weeks from the time of receipt by the Appeals Service(32)11.3 weeks

(31)Excludes cases requiring further evidence.
(32)Excludes stayed cases awaiting decision in lead cases in a higher court (the effective date will commence from withdrawal of stay being notified).

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