The Crown court backlog has soared to a record high of nearly 65,000 cases, new figures revealed yesterday.
Data from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) showed Crown courts in England and Wales had 64,709 cases on the books at end of June, up four per cent on the previous quarter.
It means victims of crime are facing years of delay before securing justice. The backlog in the magistrates’ courts was also up to 345,285, a rise of two per cent in three months.
The MoJ has set a target to cut the Crown court backlog to 53,000 by March 2025, but progress over recent months has gone into reverse.
Tana Adkin KC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said victims and other parties in cases were being ‘held in limbo’.
Ministry of Justice data shows that 64,709 cases were on the books of Crown courts in England and Wales at the end of June, four per cent up on the previous quarter
‘If justice is not served in good time, it is not served at all,’ she said.
‘Record delays to cases being heard, especially rape and serious sexual offence cases, mean that victims, witnesses and defendants are held in limbo unable to move on with their lives, just as dedicated criminal barristers, judges, juries and court staff are all working hard to ensure cases reach a just conclusion as quickly as possible.
She called on the Government to ‘do its part’ and ensure resources are available to help clear the backlog.
‘The flagship government policy to allow vulnerable complainants to give their accounts closer in time to events by way of pre-recorded evidence remains under-resourced,’ the barrister said.
The problems have been caused by a combination of factors, including the knock-on effect of Covid-era court shutdowns and the impact of a defence barristers’ strike which ended almost a year ago.
In addition, the Government has also met a pledge to deliver 20,000 extra police officers, which means forces are making more arrests leading to more prosecutions.
File photo of Southwark Crown Court. Data shows that Crown courts were receiving six per cent more cases in the three months up to June compared to the previous quarter but completing six per cent less in the same period
Data showed the number of cases received by Crown courts was up six per cent to 26,403 in the three months to June compared with the previous quarter.
However, Crown court ‘disposals’ – or completed cases – were down by six per cent to 23,581 over the same period.
A MoJ spokesman said: ‘People who break the law must face justice, and more criminal cases are now reaching the Crown court than at any point over the last two years.
‘We are letting our courts run at full throttle – lifting the cap on the number of days courts can sit for a third year, recruiting more judges, and investing more in our courts, including in magistrates’ courts where more than 90 per cent of criminal cases are dealt with.’
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