Criminal justice system in the UK- Statistics & Facts

The criminal justice system of the United Kingdom is the collective body responsible for administrating justice in the UK, and consists of various institutions such as the police, the crown prosecution service, and the UK's prison system. Like almost every governmental department in the UK, the Ministry of Justice has been forced to contend with fewer resources in the last decade, and saw its budget fall from 9.1 billion British pounds in 2009/10 to 7.35 billion British pounds in 2015/16. In the years since 2015/16, the budget of the Ministry of Justice has gradually increased, although the budget for 2019/20 will shrink by approximately 2 percent compared with 2018/19. The reduction in police officers since 2010 is one of the most well-known consequences of the cuts, but other important aspects of the justice system, such as criminal legal aid funding, have also been dramatically reduced.

During the last decade, as budgets fell across all governmental departments, crime in the United Kingdom increased, putting an extra burden on the criminal justice system. Sexual offences in particular grew significantly, from just under 54 thousand at the start of the 2010s, to over 162 thousand by 2018/19. While this is partly due to the emergence of historical allegations of sexual abuse, there has also been a cultural shift in the way such crimes are handled by the justice system, with previous sexual offence figures likely only showing a fraction of actual crimes. These types of crimes are among the most serious and carry the highest average prison sentence length in England and Wales.

Due to these developments, the court responsible for serious crime cases in England and Wales, the Crown Court, has struggled with a backlog of cases, which peaked at 55 thousand in late 2014. While the Crown Court has managed to reduce that number to around 33 thousand by the third quarter of 2019, there is a danger that the number of outstanding cases could increase again, with new court cases outstripping resolved ones. At the same time, it is also taking longer for trials to reach conclusion, with cases taking an average of 525 days in 2019 to go from offence to completion, compared with 392 days in 2010.

Although the Crown Court deals with the most serious types of crimes, most court cases in England and Wales will proceed through the Magistrate's Court, which had over 375 thousand new cases in the third quarter of 2019, compared with 27 thousand in the Crown Court. A similar structure exists in Scotland, with indictable crimes being dealt with in the High Court and Sheriff Courts, and summary offences often dealt with in the Justice of the Peace court.

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Criminal justice system in the UK

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