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Bar Council urges action over largest Crown Court backlog for six years

Bar Council

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The Bar Council has responded to the latest criminal court statistics which suggest the highest level of outstanding cases at the Crown Court since 2014.

Today’s publication of the quarterly criminal court statistics - October to December 2020, revealed that at the end of Q4 2020 there were 56,827 outstanding cases at the Crown Court, an increase of 49% on Q4 2019 (38,212 cases). This is the highest level of outstanding cases seen across the series (since 2014) and continues increases seen since Q1 2019.

Responding to the findings, Chair of the Bar Council, Derek Sweeting QC, said:

“We are facing the largest backlog of cases in the Crown Court for six years and an almost 50 per cent rise in the number of cases waiting to be heard compared to a year ago. It’s concerning that this has been the direction of travel since January 2019, long before Covid-19 hit.

“With an end to social distancing in sight the Government needs to seize the opportunity to allow the courts to deal with as many cases as possible by investing in more court capacity, more court staff and adequate sitting days. Now is not the time to hold back and make the false economies of the past.  We should not forget that the impact of the backlog is felt most by the victims, witnesses, defendants and other members of the public who are having to wait – sometimes years – to see justice done.”


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