Trials

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 23 April 2024.

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Photo of Siobhain McDonagh Siobhain McDonagh Labour, Mitcham and Morden

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many and what proportion of court trials for (a) rape, (b) sexual assault, (c) violence against a person, (d) murder, (e) theft, (f) possession of weapons and (g) fraud have been delayed each year since 2010.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

We have interpreted your request as relating to ineffective trials, which is where the trial does not take place on the day as planned and requires rescheduling. Ineffective trials happen for a variety of reasons, such as the absence of a defendant or a witness or adjournment requests from either the prosecution or defence.

The tables attached set out the data held by the Ministry of Justice on ineffective trials broken down by offence type, in volume and as a proportion of the total listed trials for that offence type. Crown Court data is available from 2014 onwards.

The pandemic created a significant challenge for the Crown Court and affected its ability to effectively list trials. As a result, the ineffective trial rate notably increased in 2020, primarily due to increases in defendant illness or absence, and overlisting (55% of all ineffective trials were for these reasons combined).

Since 2022, the proportion of ineffective trials in the Crown Court for all offences increased significantly as a result of the Criminal Bar Assocation (CBA) action. While the ineffective trial rate reduced swiftly following the conclusion of the CBA action, in the most recent available data published by the MoJ (October-December 2023), the defence or prosecution not being ready was the largest reason for ineffective trials, accounting for 22% (450) of all ineffective trials.

Despite the overall increase in ineffective trials since the pandemic and subsequent CBA action, the latest data shows cases progressed through the Crown Court more quickly throughout 2023, with the median time from receipt to completion reducing from 167 days in the first quarter of 2023, to 125 days in the last quarter.

PQ_Table_21517 (xlsx, 23.1KB)

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