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Crime Up, Prosecutions Down

(Posted on 04/09/19)

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Crime Up, Prosecutions Down

Ministry of Justice figures show the number of people being prosecuted or handed out-of-court warnings or fines has fallen to its lowest level since records began, whilst recorded crime continues to rise.

Between April 2018 and March 2019, 1.59 million people were formally dealt with by the criminal justice system in England and Wales, representing a 2% fall of  on the previous period.

The number of serious crimes dealt with by a crown court dropped by 8%, at the same time as the number of offences recorded by police rose by 8% to 5.3m offences.

“Criminals up and down the country will be rubbing their hands with glee knowing that even if their crimes are detected and they are caught by the police, the chances of them being prosecuted or jailed are slim.” said Richard Atkins QC, chair of the Bar Council. “These statistics make for grim reading.

“However, the state of the criminal justice system is far worse than the figures show. The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service said recently that overall police [crime] detection rates nationally are woefully low and that the courts are emptying, not filling.

“If crime is not detected, it cannot be recorded, investigated or prosecuted, so the official figures are just the tip of an iceberg. Criminals are going about their business unchallenged: fraud goes virtually unpunished and is not even included in the statistics.

“The recent focus on the state of the criminal justice system by the government is welcome, as are the additional resources, but the whole system is broken or breaking and the focus needs to be on every part: legal aid and access to legal representation, prosecution, courts, forensic science, probation, as well as police and prisons.”

Last week the fledgling government announced an additional £85m over two years for the Crown Prosecution Service, though critics have asked where the money will come from.

“We are doing more to restore public confidence in the justice system - investing in police and prison places, and reviewing sentencing to make sure violent and sexual offenders are properly punished,” a MoJ spokesman said, neglecting to mention legal aid, access to legal representation, prosecution, courts, forensic science or probation. Nothing to help reduce wrongful convictions then.