Skip to main content

Crown Prosecution Service

Volume 528: debated on Tuesday 24 May 2011

8. What priorities the Crown Prosecution Service has set during the comprehensive spending review period. (56996)

The priorities are to provide a prosecution service of the highest quality, informed by its core quality standards, published in April 2010, which set the measures by which the CPS is judged by itself and others; to provide a more streamlined and efficient service, for example by making good use of all available technology; and, by working with the police and the courts, to eliminate unnecessarily bureaucratic systems, while at all times promoting justice.

I thank the Solicitor-General for his answer, but will he respond to the serious concerns of defence barristers and Victim Support about the CPS instructing single counsel for the prosecution, including for murder cases with multiple defendants, as a result of cost pressures?

I do not know whether that is a direct result of cost pressures, but I, too, have raised this very matter with the CPS, and we are looking into it with some care.

The cost pressures on the CPS over the coming period are leading it to prioritise cases such as those involving serious domestic or sexual offences. What cases will it have to de-prioritise to achieve those aims?

In all prosecuting decisions, the CPS will look at the prosecutors code to see whether there is sufficient evidence and whether it is in the public interest to prosecute. It is not a question of picking one type of crime and not picking another.

I support the Government’s drive for more prosecutions of rape. Will the Solicitor-General support my move to allocate a centre to North Yorkshire and York to help victims of rape? Were we to have such a centre—

Order. I am not sure that this is a priority of the Crown Prosecution Service, but the Solicitor-General can respond to the first part of the question briefly.

I share my hon. Friend’s concern about the way in which rape cases are currently prosecuted. As was stated in this House the other day, we want to bear down on the attrition rate. The conviction rate bears comparison with other aspects of the criminal system, but we want to ensure that rape victims can report their allegations to the police and that they are treated with care and sensitivity right the way through to what we hope is a conviction.

The Prime Minister has said that it should be a priority for the CPS and the Metropolitan police to follow the evidence where it goes in the phone hacking scandal. Will the Minister say whether it is cost pressures at the CPS that have left the Metropolitan police reluctant to pursue the evidence of other private investigators involved in the illegal covert surveillance of British citizens?

I do not think that that is at all true. The hon. Gentleman has taken a close interest in this matter and I have no criticism of him for doing that, but the relationship between the CPS and the Metropolitan police is entirely clear and constitutional, and will, as the Prime Minister has said, permit both to lead the investigation to where the evidence takes it.