Scant progress in tackling huge court backlogs

Statistics released today demonstrate the lack of progress made in tackling the huge criminal court backlogs, says the Law Society of England and Wales.

“It is extremely worrying to see the huge backlogs in our criminal courts continue to rise, which is leading to unacceptable delays for victims, witnesses and defendants,” said Law Society president Nick Emmerson.

“The number of outstanding cases in the magistrates’ courts is almost 30,000 higher than it was a year ago.

“While the Crown Court backlog has reduced slightly month-on-month to 65,077, it is still more than 3,500 higher than last year and far above the UK government’s target of reducing it to 53,000 by March 2025.

“Decades of cuts and underinvestment in our criminal justice system has led us to this crisis where there aren’t enough judges, lawyers and court staff to deal with the huge volume of work.

"Only sustained investment across the system can replenish it and ensure timely access to justice for victims and defendants.”

Notes for editors

In November 2023, there were 370,090 outstanding cases in the magistrates’ court, up from 340,102 in November 2022.

In the Crown Court, the backlog stood at 65,077 in November 2023, compared to 61,526 in November 2022.

See the HM Courts and Tribunals Service stats

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Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100

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