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Conviction Rates

Volume 560: debated on Tuesday 26 March 2013

The Crown Prosecution Service secures convictions in over 17 out of every 20 cases. The Director of Public Prosecutions has concentrated particularly on improving rape and domestic violence outcomes for victims, and conviction rates for both have improved substantially over the past two years. As for the statistical performance of the Serious Fraud Office, my hon. Friend will have heard the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan).

I thank the Attorney-General for that answer. For all the controversy over terrorism legislation, LIBOR rate rigging and tax-dodging, terrorism convictions plummeted by 77% over the past five years, convictions for false accounting fell by 73%, and convictions for tax evasion slumped to 107 under Labour. What action is he taking to plug the gaping prosecutorial deficit left by the previous Government?

The Home Office is responsible for producing official statistics on casework outcomes in terrorism. The latest published Home Office data for the year ending September 2012 indicate that 24 out of 29 defendants were convicted, at a conviction rate of 82.8%. At that time, 134 prisoners classified as terrorists or domestic extremists were convicted and remanded. On fraud, the number of prosecutions has increased by 25% since 2010 and the conviction rate remains at 86.2%. On tax evasion, in the financial year to date 86% of cases originating with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have resulted in conviction. I should like to write to my hon. Friend about the overall figures on this.

Does the Attorney-General share my concern about the memo leaked by the CPS that showed there was a risk of CPS prosecutors deliberately choosing cases that were likely to crack because of lack of evidence, in order to save costs?

I think that the conviction rates speak for the efficiency of the CPS. I have seen nothing to suggest that cases are not being pursued outside the ordinary tests of public interest and the reasonable prospect of getting a conviction. Obviously, if those do not apply then there should not be a prosecution at all. I am certainly not aware of there being any fiddling and of decisions being made not to prosecute certain cases that should be prosecuted.