9. What progress he has made on introducing fast-tracked prosecutions during the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. (115843)
The arrangements for fast-track prosecutions during the Olympics and Paralympics are in place and they have been agreed by the courts, the Crown Prosecution Service, the police and representatives of defence lawyers in London. Olympic offences originating from the hon. Lady’s part of London will be dealt with at Thames magistrates court and Snaresbrook Crown court, with priority cases being dealt with at Highbury Corner magistrate’s court.
The Crown Prosecution Service has been quoted by the media as saying that offences classified as “Olympic offences” will be fast-tracked through the courts during the Olympic and Paralympic games. Will the Solicitor-General explain what is meant by an “Olympic offence”, and does he think that it is right that Crown and magistrates courts near Olympic venues or traffic hubs should close or reduce their sittings during the games?
I think the media are quoting a letter shown to them by the shadow Attorney-General—
The hon. Lady has not seen it either. We are both in the dark, that is wonderful—[Interruption.] The shadow Attorney-General does not know anything, apparently. Let me enlighten her—[Interruption.] She is obviously in a hurry to learn.
The criminal justice system Olympics working group has adopted the following definition of an Olympic offence:
“any offence…committed and charged in the period 1st July to 30th September 2012, and is…stated by any Court to be directly connected to the 2012 Olympic or Paralympics Games”.
It is a definition of a type of crime, not a new offence.
When fast-track courts were used following the riots, there was a feeling among magistrates that district judges had been used extensively and the lay magistracy had not been used as much as it could have been. Will that happen in Olympic cases, or is the Solicitor-General looking carefully at this?
I am sorry, but I found it quite difficult to hear my right hon. Friend, but in so far as I heard his question, the courts will be manned by all appropriate judges. At the Crown court, clearly there will be Crown court judges; in magistrates courts, district judges will be deployed and, where appropriate, justices of the peace will sit in banks of three.