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Court prosecutions 25% down in three years, new figures show

6 December 2018

Prosecutions in court have fallen by 25% over the last three years, figures published today by the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service reveal.

SCTS's second quarterly bulletin providing official statistics on criminal case activity in Scotland shows that 109,881 first instance criminal cases were registered in 2017-18, 25% fewer than in 2014-15 (and 7% down on 2016-17), while the number of trials scheduled fell by 9% at the end of September 2018 compared with March 2018.

Most of the reduction is attributable to changes in summary crime, and in particular to cases taken in the justice of the peace court, though new summary cases rose between Q1 and Q2 of 2018-19. The number of High Court trials continues to rise – up 10% in Q2 of 2018-19 compared with Q1 – due to increased reporting of sexual crime. Indictments registered rose in the High Court but fell in the sheriff court.

The bulletin, which covers activity in all High, sheriff and justice of the peace courts, claims "encouraging trends in court performance", with a drop in the percentage of trials adjourned due to lack of court time, down from 5.6% in 2014-15 to 3.5% in the first two quarters of 2018-19.

It gives a comprehensive picture and includes such figures as the national total of trials called; the total of trials where evidence was led; and the total of trials concluded. Information on summary and solemn business is available for each court individually, with access to useful graphs and tables in addition to the figures themselves.

David Fraser, chief operations officer at SCTS, commented: "I am delighted that we can now provide this information, which shows the trends in criminal cases over the last four years and represents another advance in the drive for openness and transparency on court activity.

"Overall the data in this report show the system is performing well. The number of trials scheduled and adjournments for lack of court time are both down, which are good indicators of overall performance."

Click here to access the bulletin (under the heading "Statistics").

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