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Court trials hit record low in England and Wales

According to new figures from the Ministry of Justice, the number of trials being held in England and Wales has reached a record low as police forces struggle to solve crimes.

The statistics show that Magistrates’ court trials have fallen by a third since current recording started in 2003, while the figure for crown courts is down by 18 per cent.

Since 2008 there are almost 67,000 fewer criminal trials taking place, and separate statistics have shown that the number of crimes being prosecuted has also fallen to a record low, as has the number of people punished.

Only 7.8 per cent of crimes reported to police a suspect charged or summonsed in 2018-19, and for rape, the figure was just 1.5 per cent.

Campaigners are blaming the figures on cuts made across the criminal justice system. Since 2010, 295 court facilities have been shut down and police numbers are at an all-time low.

Richard Atkins QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said: “While parliament is squabbling over Brexit, criminals are free to walk the streets as the justice system begins to grind to a halt, leaving the British public at risk.

“These latest Ministry of Justice statistics must be ringing alarm bells at the Treasury and Downing Street.

“Criminal justice needs more than simply boosting police ranks. It needs investment in the entire system.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “The drop in the number of trials simply reflects that there has been a fall in the number of crown court prosecutions – any claim to the contrary is misleading.

“The number of outstanding crown court cases has fallen by over 40 per cent in the last five years, demonstrating that the system is working effectively and efficiently.

“The Ministry of Justice budget will increase by 5 per cent in real terms next year and the CPS is receiving an extra £85m to ensure the criminal justice system can support the work of the 20,000 extra police officers we are recruiting to tackle crime.”

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Andrew Sharp

Andrew Sharp

Associate Director - Head of Criminal Department
I was born and brought up in Coventry before graduating in law from Bristol University in 1976. I qualified as a solicitor in 1979 and became a partner in 1982.

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