Victims, witnesses and defendants are facing even longer delays to access justice, according to a new report.
Official criminal court statistics for July to September last year, reveal that the time from offence to the case being resolved at the crown court continues to rise.
At the end of September 2021, there were 59,928 outstanding cases in the crown court and 349,277 outstanding in the magistrates’ courts.
And there are a record proportion of those crown court cases – 13,202, representing 23% of the outstanding caseload – outstanding for a year or more.
Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce, said that people were waiting too long to get the justice they deserved.
“The lengthy delays in trials coming to court mean a traumatised victim can be left waiting years to see their assailant locked up, while an innocent defendant can find their life in limbo while they wait to clear their name,” she said.
“Investment in the criminal justice system is needed now, starting with the immediate implementation of the 15% increase in criminal legal aid rates recommended in Sir Christopher Bellamy’s Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid.
“If this does not happen, we fear that our members will leave the market at ever faster rates, which will seriously compromise the government’s ability to clear the huge backlog in the criminal courts and ensure timely justice for victims, witnesses and defendants.
“Sir Christopher’s evidence to the Justice Select Committee this week reflected our concerns about improving how the criminal justice system functions as a whole, making sure courts are fit for purpose and dealing with listing issues.
“The crown court backlog is down 1% on the previous quarter. This demonstrates the slow rate of progress in tackling it.”