Criminal justice mired by delays that show little government impact
Victims, defendants and solicitors alike are suffering the negative effects of going through a criminal justice system that has been stymied by lack of government investment, we have said.
New figures released on 29 June reveal that 10% of the backlog in the Crown Courts, a record-breaking 6073 cases, have been delayed for more than 2 years.
And there are more cases which have been unresolved for a year or more in the Crown Courts backlog, rising to a new high of 29%.
“The figures show that more people – the accused, victims, defendants and their families – are waiting to see justice and are left to cope with unresolved cases hanging over them for years,” said our president Lubna Shuja.
“We’ve been saying these delays are unacceptable, but it is only getting worse. The government needs to act now and invest in a properly functioning system if we are to tackle the court delays.”
It’s unlikely that the meagre government target of reducing the backlog to 53,000 by March 2025 will be reached. Hardly a dent has been made in the criminal courts outstanding caseload, which fell by 0.4% in the Crown Courts. However, a recent increase in the backlog has been indicated by the government’s latest update.*
“Our recent research** on duty solicitors shows that there aren’t enough criminal defence solicitors available to represent detainees at the early stages of cases. But there are also a lack of judges, lawyers and court staff who are pushed to get through these caseloads,” added Lubna Shuja.
“Investment is needed across the entire system for any progress to be made, and for backlogs to be dealt with.
“Our five-point plan sets out a plan for tackling the backlog, including funding criminal justice.”
Notes to editors
- Criminal court statistics quarterly: January to March 2023
- Read our five-point plan
- *HMCTS Management Information – April 2022 to April 2023. The magistrates' courts and crown courts outstanding caseloads both increase in April 2023.
- ** Criminal duty solicitors: a perfect storm
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Press office contact: Louise Navarro-Cann |020 8049 3715
Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100