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Court Cases (Postponements)

Volume 408: debated on Tuesday 1 July 2003

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To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many court cases which have been set down for trial have been postponed because they have not been prepared properly by the Crown Prosecution Service in each year since 1997. [120690]

The question has been transferred to me as [have responsibility for the Crown Prosecution Service.The Crown Prosecution Service is party to a joint scheme, with the Department for Constitutional Affairs, to monitor the levels of cracked, ineffective and vacated trials in magistrates courts. The scheme, jointly developed between the two departments, was implemented in all 42 criminal justice system (CIS) Areas in April 2002. The scheme enables court, prosecution and defence practitioners to agree reasons why cases listed for trial are vacated or do not proceed as planned on the day. The data on the agreed reasons is analysed locally, under the stewardship of the Local Criminal Justice Board, so that strategies can be developed to reduce the instances of trials not proceeding.The results of monitoring for the first three-quarters 2002–03 in respect of cases listed for trial but vacated before the trial date because the prosecution were not ready for trial (further preparation needed) is: