Polygamy is not recognised as a specific offence by the criminal law. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) does not maintain a record of the number of defendants charged with or convicted of bigamy rather than polygamy (which is a specific offence under the criminal law in England and Wales). This information is held on individual case files, and may be retrieved only by locating and examining every relevant file in each CPS office in England and Wales, which would incur a disproportionate cost
The CPS central records show the number of offences of bigamy charged under section 57 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and in respect of which a prosecution was commenced in magistrates courts. The figures for the last three years are contained in the following table:
|Offences charged and reaching a first hearing in magistrates courts
|Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (57)
|Notes: 1. Offences recorded in the MIS Offences Universe are those which reached a hearing. There is no indication of final outcome or if the charged offence was the substantive charge at finalisation. 2. Data relate to the number of offences recorded in magistrates courts, in which a prosecution commenced, as recorded on the CMS. 3. Offences data are not held by defendant or outcome. 4. Offences recorded in the Offences Universe of the MIS are those which were charged at any time and reached at least one hearing. This offence will remain recorded whether or not that offence was proceeded with and there is no indication of final outcome or if the offence charged was the substantive offence at finalisation. 5. CPS data are available through its Case Management System (CMS) and associated Management Information System (MIS). The CPS collects data to assist in the effective management of its prosecution functions. The CPS does not collect data which constitute official statistics as defined in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007. These data have been drawn from the CPS's administrative IT system, which, as with any large scale recording system, is subject to possible errors with data entry and processing. The figures are provisional and subject to change as more information is recorded by the CPS. 6. The official statistics relating to crime and policing are maintained by the Home Office and the official statistics relating to sentencing, criminal court proceedings, offenders brought to justice, the courts and the judiciary are maintained by the Ministry of Justice.