· 73,143 criminal prosecutions thrown out in the last year alone, working out at 200 every day, costing the taxpayer £13.1m
· Reasons include missing exhibits, police files and witnesses
· “Common sense measures will bring crooks to justice: Tell victims time and place of trial, show barristers case papers in advance”
Tens of thousands of criminals are dodging justice every year because of faults within the courts system, according to new FOI figures.
Out of 738,064 total prosecutions across the UK in 2013, 73,143 have been dropped*, working out to 200 every day.1
Thrown out prosecutions cost the taxpayer £13.1m a year.2
Common reasons include:3
· Files not being received from the police (1,399 occasions)
· Essential statement, exhibits and evidence not available (6,438)
· Incorrect charging decision – an essential legal element missing (4,201)
· Conflicts in prosecution evidence (9,168)
· Victim fails to attend court (9,278)
· Key witnesses (non-victim) not attending court (2,382)
· Police witnesses failing to attend court (823)
The FOI figures, uncovered by GLA Conservative Tony Arbour shows a total of 240,891 failing cases in the last three years – 88,282 in 2011-12, 79,466 in 2012-13 and 73,143 in 2013-14.4
GLA Conservative London Assembly Member Tony Arbour said:
“It’s good news that crime is falling, now we need common sense measures to bring crooks to justice. I’m alarmed to see that yet again tens of thousands of prosecutions are failing across the country. It costs the public purse millions every year, and an even greater emotional cost to victims and witnesses, who may get so disillusioned with the courts that they may decide not to engage with the criminal justice service – or even worse, not even bother to report crime.
“The 2011 riots showed that the system can be speedy and effective when it wants to be. Burglars, looters and thieves were rounded up and convicted within 24 hours. To keep this up, the Crown Prosecution Service needs to get the basics right. Witnesses and victims need to be told the exact time, day and place to attend court; prosecution barristers should be able to see case papers in advance to prepare themselves, not at 9am before a 10am start; and the CPS, police and prosecution barristers should directly communicate before the trial to make sure it is ready to go ahead.”
These figures are the latest in Tony Arbour’s campaign to cut the number of dropped and delayed court trials. His recent report shows London as the worst performing region for delayed trials.
1 FOI figures provided directly to Tony Arbour by the CPS in August 2014
2 Cost for 2012/13 obtained via the Magistrates Association
3 FOI request provided to Tony Arbour by the CPS in August 2014
*Dropped prosecutions = All cases in which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided to drop proceedings before evidence was heard by the court