The average figure for July to September 2003 was 66 days, five days below the target figure of 71 days. Thirty three of the 42 criminal justice areas had an average arrest to sentence time of 71 days or less, whilst only two areas had an average of more than 80 days.
repeatedly committing crime are now feeling the results of this.
'But we cannot be complacent, we must continue to deliver on this pledge to ensure that victims of crime have confidence in the criminal justice system.'
The pledge was announced in 1997 and scheduled to be delivered by May 2002. It was first achieved in August 2001. Since then, the pledge has been met for 24 out of 26 months. The latest monthly figure for September 2003 is 68 days.
Chris Leslie, courts minister at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, said: 'Bringing offenders to justice swiftly ensures a stronger message is sent. The courts continue to work hard to maintain the speed with which cases progress through the courts and I congratulate everyone involved in boosting confidence in the criminal justice system in this way.'
The Attorney General Lord Goldsmith QC said: 'The pledge has now been met for nine consecutive quarters. Halving the time from arrest to sentence for persistent young offenders makes a major contribution to the government's work to tackle youth offending. Because it has become standard performance, we should not
ov erlook the achievement of all those involved.
'The approach the Crown Prosecution Service has taken to meeting this pledge - better case preparation and presentation, getting the case right from the start, giving police early legal advice, and helping the courts with sentencing - has now been extended to benefit cases across the board.'
Sir Charles Pollard, acting chairman of the Youth Justice Board, said: 'The fact that we have met this pledge for the ninth consecutive quarter is testament to the sheer hard work of practitioners across the criminal justice system. But this dedication needs to be maintained if we are to continue to meet this target and rise to the new challenges we are presented with.
'Young offenders must be made to realise the consequences of their actions. Reducing the time taken from arrest to sentence is a fundamental part of this, however it is essential that this is combined with effective post-court interventions that tackle the causes of offending and encourage reparation to the community.'
1. In 1996, dealing with a persistent young offender (from arrest to sentence) took an average of 142 days.
2. A persistent young offender is a person aged 10-17 who has been convicted of a recordable offence on three or more occasions and commits another offence within three years.
3. The Youth Justice Board(YJB) was established under the Crime & Disorder Act 1998 to lead the reforms to the youth justice system. One of the board's main responsibilities is to co-ordinate all the work on delivering the government's pledge to speed up youth justice.