Victims let down by dismantled criminal justice
Victims and defendants continue to be let down by the government’s failure to properly invest in the criminal justice system, the Law Society of England and Wales has said.
Figures released today show the miniscule progress on tackling the criminal court backlogs which are leaving people’s lives in limbo as they wait years for a conclusion.
The Crown Court backlog has increased by 6% from the same time last year, standing at 62,440 cases in the queue by the end of December 2022.* The lack of progress shown year-on-year makes it seem unlikely that the government target of reducing the backlog to 53,000 by March 2025 will be reached.
Waiting times in the courts also increased and remain well above pre-COVID levels. The median time it took from offence to completion at the Crown Court rose from 351 to 371 days.**
“These delays are unacceptable. There are a lack of judges, lawyers and court staff who are pushed to get through caseloads. In addition, we keep hearing from lawyers and court staff that there are further setbacks caused by faulty technology and physical disrepair in the courts,” said Law Society President Lubna Shuja.
“Backlogs won’t be dealt with unless there is proper investment across the entire system.”
The data shows a rise in the number of outstanding cases that have been open for a year or more (29%), with 5,568 cases waiting for more than two years for justice – a 12% rise from the previous quarter.
“As it is, people are waiting for years to get the justice they deserve, families are left to cope with uncertainty, and those working in courts are expected to deal with the frustrations of a broken system,” added Lubna Shuja.
“Our five-point plan sets out how the backlog can be tackled, including funding criminal justice.”
Notes to editors
- Criminal court statistics quarterly: October to December 2022
- Read our five-point plan
- Read the National Audit Office (NAO) progress report on courts and tribunals reform programme
- * The outstanding caseload in the Crown Courts Q4 2021 was 58,800 compared to 62,440 Q4 2022.
- ** This shows a 6% increase
- *** Data gaps in criminal justice report – Centre for Public Data
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