I am pleased to say that CPS Northamptonshire is a high-performing area. All CPS areas are monitored every quarter against 15 key performance indicators, and the hon. Gentleman’s own CPS is performing at or close to its target in 13 of those 15 areas.
In congratulating the chief Crown prosecutor of Northamptonshire, Grace Ononiwu, on being awarded the OBE in the new year’s honours list, will the Solicitor-General comment on the overall assessment of the CPS in Northamptonshire as “fair”? Will she also comment on the outcomes of cases in magistrates courts, which are assessed as being below the national average?
Yes, I understand that the CPS in Northamptonshire narrowly missed achieving a “good” score, achieving a “fair” score instead. In four of the five critical aspects of performance, the inspectors judged the direction of travel to be “improving”. I had not understood there to be difficulties in regard to the outcomes in the magistrates courts. The magistrates courts and Crown courts certainly appear to have achieved successful outcomes, as their targets require. They have reduced ineffective trials, which is another key target related to both kinds of court, and they appear to be applying their case work quality assurance satisfactorily, so I am not sure that they are failing in that regard. In fact, they have been slightly under par in the way in which they have dealt with the issue of no witness, no justice—which deals with witness care material—but they have failed by only 0.4 per cent. in that area, so they really are doing quite well and going in the right direction.
The quarterly assessments do not break down in that way. They show performance by category of case, and show only broadly how the duties are being carried out. If the hon. Gentleman wants me to make a specific inquiry into how the chief Crown prosecutor is doing in that regard, I have no objection to doing so.