Why thousands of trials collapse

p2778UK-News-6-1

Published: Thursday 16th October 2014 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Thousands of court cases are collapsing each year due to missing evidence or paperwork.

Of the 73,143 prosecutions dropped in 2013/14, 6,438 did not proceed because an essential statement, exhibit or other evidence was not available, while 1,399 were abandoned because a police file was not received.

Another 1,480 were halted because essential expert evidence was not available, figures released by the Crown Prosecution Service under the Freedom of Information Act show.

Conservative London Assembly member and magistrate Tony Arbour, who obtained the information, said he found the data “alarming”. It revealed that in 9,278 cases the victim had failed to attend court, and the prosecution did not go ahead.

Mr Arbour said: “It’s good news that crime is falling. Now we need commonsense 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 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.”

The breakdown of reasons why cases failed included 4,201 where an incorrect charging decision was made and a legal element was missing; 823 where a police witness failed to attend court; and 693 where prosecutors were not ready.

Another 652 had to be abandoned because of a delay between the offence or charge and the trial.

Figures from the CPS showed that there were 88,282 dropped prosecutions in 2011/12 and 79,466 in 2012/13.

In total there were 738,064 prosecutions in 2013/14, of which 73,143 were dropped.

A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) spokesman said: “It is wrong and misleading to suggest that all of these cases were dropped as a result of CPS errors. There are myriad reasons, sometimes beyond our control, as to why cases cannot go ahead.

“We rely on police to provide us with quality case files in a timely manner and we also work closely with them to do all we can to ensure victims and witnesses attend court when needed. As a result 90% of cases went ahead last year, while 85% of cases resulted in a conviction.”

Published: Thursday 16th October 2014 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search