Skip to main content

Rules of Disclosure

Volume 548: debated on Tuesday 10 July 2012

5. What assessment he has made of the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service inspectorate to review the handling of disclosure in complex cases; and if he will make a statement. (115839)

The duty of disclosure is a key part of the criminal justice system and therefore Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service inspectorate has plans to undertake specific work on disclosure. That includes both a focused review of the disclosure of sensitive material in cases involving sexual offences, which is planned for this autumn, and a joint inspection with Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary on complex cases, which is currently being scoped.

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for his answer but I am concerned, as are the British Association of Psychotherapists and the Association of Women Barristers, that the way in which disclosure is sometimes handled in cases of rape and sexual assault affects pre-trial treatment decisions and inhibits victims from undertaking counselling. Will the Minister give me his assurance that those concerns will be addressed by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service inspectorate in the upcoming review that will, I understand, be announced in the next few weeks?

I can reassure my hon. Friend. The final scoping for the inspection is not yet complete but it will include examination of a significant number of sexual offences cases to ascertain whether the disclosure of medical records, including, where applicable, counselling notes, complies with the prosecution’s duty of disclosure and policy and the potential impact of any non-compliance. As I hope she will appreciate, although the other part of the disclosure inquiry is particularly about the problems that came out of the south Wales case of Lynette White, those two things are not mutually incompatible.