Government set to miss target to reduce courts backlog

New data released on Thursday (13 April) shows that problems in the criminal justice system are persisting, the Law Society of England and Wales has said.

From February 2022 to February 2023 there was a 6% increase in the Crown Court backlog of outstanding cases, despite a 1% fall from January – February this year . *

The continuing lack of progress to reduce the backlog makes it unlikely the government will achieve its target of cutting the number of cases waiting to come to court to 53,000 by March 2025.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) management information reveals that there was an increase in the number of outstanding cases in the Magistrates’ Court, undermining suggestions from government that the situation is improving.

President of the Law Society of England and Wales, Lubna Shuja, said: “The data cuts through the rhetoric and clearly shows that delays in the criminal justice system aren’t coming down anytime soon.

“In the Magistrates’ Court, the situation continues to deteriorate. 1,666 cases were added to the backlog in February, bringing the total to 343,519. Too many more people are joining the towering backlog of victims, defendants and their families who are waiting in limbo for justice.”

The statistics show a small decrease of less than 1% in the queue for the Crown Court compared to the previous month, with the backlog standing at 60,898 cases.

“The public need to know they can rely on a functioning criminal justice system,” Lubna Shuja said.

“A real commitment from government to proper investment in the criminal justice system is urgently needed to deal with these issues. The Law Society’s five-point plan sets out how the courts backlog can be tackled.”


Notes to editors

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