§ The Solicitor-General
In November 1999, in line with national policy, the Bolton/Wigan branch of the Crown Prosecution Service, in liaison with Greater Manchester police and Bolton magistrates court, introduced the Narey proposals. All adult defendants charged with a criminal offence now make their first appearance before Bolton magistrates court within 48 hours. The present figures suggest that more than 50 per cent. of all defendants now have their case finished far more quickly than was previously the case. In January 2001, also in line with national policy and new legislation, the Crown Prosecution 47W Service and the magistrates courts started sending the most serious cases to the Crown court within one week of the first appearance in the magistrates court. Henceforth, Crown court judges will monitor the progress of these cases and they will be finalised more quickly than previously.
So far as young offenders are concerned, the Crown Prosecution Service, together with the police, the magistrates court and the local Youth Offending Team, have agreed procedures designed to bring persistent young offenders before the courts much more quickly. A recent survey of independent consultants revealed that the Crown Prosecution Service in Bolton reviewed 69 per cent. of trial files on the day of receipt, 8 per cent. within 48 hours of receipt, 8 per cent. within three days of receipt and 15 per cent. within six days of receipt. All these changes illustrate the success of the Government's policy of speeding up the work of the Criminal Justice System.
The Crown Prosecution Service has also contributed to the formulation of a local crime and disorder strategy which, after widespread consultation, identified the types of offence which cause the greatest public concern. It is now working with other criminal justice agencies to meet targets which the strategy group has set for the reduction of those offences.
Actions and policies of the Treasury Solicitor's Department and the Serious Fraud Office affect my hon. Friend's constituency only indirectly.