The number of defendants who faced prosecution fell again this year, as did the number of people dealt with by the criminal justice system as a whole, official figures reveal.
According to the criminal justice statistics for July 2018 to June 2019, the number of individuals prosecuted in all courts fell by 2% to 1.37m – meaning almost 30,000 fewer people were prosecuted this year than last. Prosecutions have been falling since June 2016.
Prosecutions for indictable offences fell by 5% to under 500,000, which the Ministry of Justice said was in line with a 6% dip in the number of offences charged by the police. Meanwhile, 1.58m people were dealt with by the criminal justice system, 2% less than the year before.
Bar Council chair Richard Atkins QC said: ‘It will be a major concern to victims of crime and anyone who cares about the criminal justice system that the figures show that whilst recorded crime has been rising, prosecutions and out of court disposals have fallen.
‘The inescapable fact is that the disproportionate cuts to the criminal justice budget over many years has broken the system. Only a considerable investment in the criminal justice system by the next government will reverse the damage and restore public confidence.’
The MoJ was more upbeat, however, stating: ‘While the number of defendants prosecuted for indictable offences continues to fall compared with a year ago, there is evidence to suggest the recent falls may be flattening, as the volume is similar to the published figures for the year ending March 2019.’
Earlier this week, the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) said changes to barristers’ defence fees should be announced by the start of next year– two months later than originally planned.
Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland told the CBA that he wanted to have made ‘positive changes’ by April 2020, providing he is still in office.