§ Mr. Jim Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he plans to take to improve the integration of police and CPS functions. 
§ Hilary Benn
[holding answer 2 December 2002]: There has already been considerable progress towards the co-location of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in criminal justice units. Our aim is that all criminal justice areas should have co-located units by April 2004. Such co-location means improvements to the way in which cases are prepared for court, and have led to good working relationships; in which advice can be sought quickly on more difficult cases, and have also resulted in considerable savings in casefile preparation. Such a set-up will also support the new arrangements in which the CPS take over from the police responsibility for charging. The evidence of piloting these arrangements is that there are improved working relationships between the police and the CPS and more focused investigations. Ready access to legal advice and improved understanding means that cases, which previously would not have resulted in a charge, will now be taken to court. The outcome is fewer discontinued cases and earlier guilty pleas. The Criminal Justice Bill contains provision to put these arrangements on a statutory basis.