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Criminal justice trends November 2022
The latest criminal justice trends (November 2022) include a 14% drop in the number of prosecutions for indictable offences.

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A mixed picture

The latest edition of the Criminal Justice Statistics Quarterly published yesterday and covering the year up to 30 June make for interesting reading as some of the trends from the impact of the pandemic become clearer. While activity in the criminal justice is rising again, the picture is very varied and some interesting nuggets of information emerge. To be honest, one of my main motivations for writing this post was to include the fantastic graphic included in the bulletin which summarises the entire flow through the justice system. It is reproduced below and, amongst many other things, it shows that the 6,470,523 recorded crimes resulted in 55,742 immediate custodial sentences, 68,207 community sentences and 38,700 suspended sentences.

Overall activity levels

  • 1.35 million individuals were dealt with by the CJS in the year ending June 2022, up 6% on last year but still below pre-COVID levels.
  • Out Of Court Disposals decreased by 1% in the most recent year, whilst community resolutions increased by 8% to 139,000.
  • Prosecutions increasing by 7% and convictions by 10% when compared with the previous year. However, prosecutions remain 16% and convictions 15% lower than in the year to June 2019. The most interesting point here is that prosecutions for indictable offences were 14% down, whereas prosecutions for summary offences were 13% up. Most of the increase here was driven by a 14% increase in prosecutions for summary motoring offences recording the highest volume seen in the last ten years, and an 11% rise in summary non-motoring offences.
  • The proportion of defendants remanded in custody at Crown Court increased again and is now 39%. Worryingly, the number of defendants remanded in custody increased by 13% in the latest year (30,900 to 35,100), after remaining steady in the few years prior.

Points of interest

Even within this clear emerging trend of Magistrates Courts and summary offences getting back to their pre-pandemic levels while the backlog in Crown Courts and indictable offences remains unmoved, there are complications. Overall, prosecutions for indictable offences have decreased by 14%, but prosecutions for violence against the person and sexual offences have increased, by 21% and 17%, respectively, when compared to pre-COVID levels in the year ending June 2019

Fraud has seen the largest increase, rising by 7 percentage points from the year ending June 2021, to a custody rate of 32%. Drug offences also increased by 6 percentage points since the year ending June 2021, up to 29% in the latest year.

This focus on serious offences is reflected in the custody rate which has risen to levels seen pre-pandemic at 33% in the latest year, after a fall in the year ending June 2021. The average custodial sentence length (ACSL) for indictable offences has continued to rise from 22.6 months in the year ending June 2021 to 25.7 months in the latest year. The largest increases are seen in sexual offences (from 54.3 months to 64.3 months in the latest year) and drug offences (from 39.0 months to 43.7 months in the latest year).

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