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Indictable Offences

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 151247, tabled on 7 June 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will assess the merits of having indictable-only offences being heard directly in the Crown Court, without commencing in Magistrates Courts.

Answered on

14 June 2018

The Prisons and Courts Bill, which was introduced in the last Parliament but fell when the General Election was called, included a measure removing the need for defendants charged with indictable-only offences to appear before a magistrates’ court simply to be told that they were being sent to the Crown Court to be tried. Instead, the Bill would have allowed such defendants to be notified in writing (including online) of their being sent to the Crown Court for trial. Although all offences would continue to commence in the magistrates’ court there would no longer be the need for a defendant charged with an indictable-only offence to first appear before that court, unless it was necessary for another reason, such as (for example) determining the defendant’s remand status. The Government introduced the Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill in the House of Lords on 23 May 2018 and, as the Justice Secretary announced at the time, the Government will be bringing forward other courts measures from the Prisons and Courts Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows.