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UK Government releases latest criminal court statistics for February 2024

UK Government releases latest criminal court statistics for February 2024


According to the report, the number of outstanding cases in the magistrates' court has surged to 382,972, a notable increase from 337,481 recorded in February 2023

The backlog in the Crown Court has risen to 66,842 cases in February 2024, up from 60,275 cases in the same period last year.

Reacting to these figures, Nick Emmerson, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, expressed deep concern over the escalating backlogs in the criminal courts. He stressed that these delays translate into significant challenges for victims, witnesses, and defendants in accessing timely justice.

Nick Emmerson criticised the government's target of reducing the Crown Court backlog to 53,000 cases, labelling it as "fanciful" in light of the current situation where the backlog has surpassed 66,000 cases. He highlighted various factors contributing to the crisis, including the deteriorating state of the court estate, insufficient judicial and legal resources, and systemic underinvestment in the criminal justice system.

While acknowledging some positive steps taken by the HM Courts and Tribunals Service to address the backlogs, Emmerson stressed that much more needs to be done to tackle the root causes of the crisis. He called for sustained funding to alleviate the strain on the system, citing a recent High Court victory that highlighted the urgent need for a 15% real terms increase in funding for defence solicitors.

Nick Emmerson emphasised the importance of early case preparation, which can lead to the dropping of unwarranted cases by the Crown Prosecution Service and encourage earlier guilty pleas, thereby reducing the burden on the court system for contested trials.

The release of these statistics underscores the urgent need for comprehensive reforms and increased investment in the UK's criminal justice system to address the mounting challenges and ensure that justice is delivered swiftly and effectively to all parties involved.