According to new figures, one in five criminal cases on their way to crown courts is waiting for more than a year as the backlog during the Covid pandemic is soaring.
- About 18 percent of criminal cases had been closed for a year or more
- This figure is three times higher than in the same period at the end of 2019
- Crown Prosecution Service warned caseload could have ‘dire consequences’
The number of criminal cases waiting for more than a year to be heard by the crown courts in England and Wales has ‘risen significantly’ during the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.
According to the Justice Department, about one in five (18 percent) of cases had been pending for a year or more in the three months to December last year.
This is three times higher than in the same period at the end of 2019 (6 percent) before the coronavirus outbreak.
Of the 55,725 cases at the end of 2020, 9,421 waited one to two years for treatment – the highest figure in records dating back to 2014.
The ‘outstanding duration’ for cases longer than two years, 866, is also a record for the series.
Of the 37,374 cases for the same period in 2019, 1,779 were waiting times of one to two years and 433 waiting more than two years.
The percentage of criminal cases waiting more than a year to be heard by Crown Courts in England and Wales ‘increased significantly’ during the pandemic, figures show (stock image)
The experimental analysis – first published ‘to address interest in the Crown Court’s pending case estimates’ – shows that’ the age of the pending cases has risen sharply as a result of the Covid-19- pandemic response and number of cases handled. The outstanding amount of more than a year has increased significantly, ”the Justice Department report said.
The quarterly criminal data, released Thursday, also said the median average time it took magistrate judges to hear cases, excluding those sent to the Crown Court, was up 20 percent from 168 days in the fourth. quarter of 2019 to 202 days in the fourth quarter of 2019. days for the same period one year later.
This is also the highest record ever.
‘Timeliness’ measures the duration of the commission of an offense during the major stages of the criminal justice system, including the filing of an indictment, initial mention to the magistrates’ court and subsequent settlement of the case in court.
According to the Justice Department, about one in five (18 percent) of cases were pending for a year or more in the three months to December last year (graph above)
This measure fell 7 percent in Crown Courts from 99 days to 92 for the same period.
The Crown Court backlog has risen 49 percent in a year to its highest level since 2014.
According to the data, there were 56,827 crown lawsuits pending at the end of 2020, up from 38,212 in the previous period.
A separate report from the Justice Department with more recent preliminary data suggests that the backlog has started to decrease in the first half of this year.
But it also shows that the last available figure, for the week ending February 21, was slightly higher – at 56,875.
The ‘outstanding duration’ for cases longer than two years, 866, is also a record for the series (image above)
This week, MPs warned that “massive” backlogs in court are causing “unacceptably long” delays for victims and the public.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) also said it has “ limited confidence in the ministry’s plans to reduce the backlog in the justice system, ” with Chairman Meg Hillier saying that “ waiting a long day in court means that justice will is often delayed to the point of denial ‘.
Earlier this month, the prosecution watchdog warned that the caseload for prosecutors is increasing at an “alarming rate” and could have “major consequences” for victims and witnesses.
Some attorneys have already said they see lawsuits listed for 2023.
The Justice Department has said there are more cases being handled every week and millions of pounds have been invested to “ do justice to victims more quickly. ”
Derek Sweeting QC, president of the Bar Association, said: ‘With an end to the social distance in sight, the government should seize the opportunity to enable the courts to handle as many cases as possible by investing in more capacity. of the court, more court staff and sufficient court days. . ‘