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Record Court Backlogs: Waiting Times for Trials Reach Unprecedented Numbers

Record Court Backlogs: Waiting Times for Trials Reach Unprecedented Numbers


Government fails to address soaring court backlogs as delays and remands reach alarming levels

Newly released figures regarding the Crown Court backlogs paint a stark picture of the justice system's challenges, revealing a concerning surge in pending cases. The latest statistics, published on December 14, showcase an alarming increase in the Crown Court's outstanding caseload, now standing at a record-breaking 66,547 cases—an unsettling 3% surge from the previous quarter, marking the highest outstanding caseload ever recorded.

Despite the UK government's modest target of reducing the Crown Court backlog to 53,000 by March 2025, the gap between the mounting number of cases and this goal continues to widen, signifying a growing crisis within the judicial system.

Notably distressing are the escalating numbers of individuals awaiting trial while remanded in custody for prolonged periods, with outstanding cases surpassing two years skyrocketing to an unprecedented 1,063—a staggering 932% surge in just three years, illustrating an all-time peak.

The concerning figures extend beyond the Crown Court, with the magistrates' courts reporting an increase of 3%, reaching a staggering 352,945 outstanding cases. Additionally, 17,790 cases in the Crown Court have been pending for over a year, contributing further to the mounting crisis.

Nick Emmerson, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, voiced serious apprehensions regarding the deteriorating state of the criminal justice system, attributing the crisis to decades of underinvestment and governmental neglect.

Emmerson highlighted the compounding effect of court delays, citing chronic shortages of lawyers and judges, overburdened prisons, and courts in disrepair. Expressing deep concern, he emphasized the rise in individuals on remand for extended periods awaiting trial, calling for urgent attention and investment to safeguard the fundamental right to access justice.