Terrible criminal court backlogs continue to spiral

The latest figures for the backlogs in the Crown and magistrates’ courts have been released today (14 September).

They show 353,406 outstanding cases in the magistrates’ courts in July this year, up from 336,861 in July 2022.

In July 2022, there were 59,361 outstanding Crown Court cases, increasing to 64,015 in July this year.*

“The terrible backlogs in our criminal courts continue to spiral out of control,” said Law Society of England and Wales president Lubna Shuja.

“Outstanding cases in the Crown Court have risen by more than 4,000 in a year and the magistrates’ court backlog by more than 15,000 in the same period.

“The fact that the backlogs continue to get worse, not better, is very alarming. Even the government’s own unambitious target of reducing the Crown Court backlog to 53,000 by March 2025 now looks like wishful thinking.

“The figures demonstrate another year of failure in tackling the backlogs. Efforts to tackle crime and keep communities safe will fail if these backlogs aren’t addressed.

“Victims, witnesses and defendants are having to wait years with their lives in limbo before cases come to court. This is unacceptable and many are understandably losing faith in the criminal justice system.

“Urgent investment is needed across the entire criminal justice system to prevent it from collapsing.

“There are crumbling courts, overwhelmed prisons, vast legal aid deserts and a shortage of lawyers and judges.

“Years of neglect of our criminal justice system can’t be put right overnight but continued inaction will only result in its collapse.”

Notes to editors

See the figures on the GOV.UK website

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100

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