New figures reveal victims face a ‘postcode lottery’ in the justice system

The BBC has obtained figures from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) revealing that victims face a ‘postcode’ lottery in the justice system. The figures show that magistrates in England and Wales, whose courts process about 90 per cent of all criminal cases, dealt with 1,360,858 defendants last year, 5.4 per cent fewer than in 2011.

In July 2015 the government announced another massive round of court closures as it launched a consultation on 91 courts and tribunals closures. This comes after 90 magistrate courts and 40 county courts closed under the coalition government leading to backlogs and delays. Since 2010, HM Courts and Tribunals Service has received a funding cut from £1.5bn to £1bn.

The figures obtained by the BBC reveal that the time taken to process cases now varies hugely across the country, with magistrates in Sussex taking an average of 124 days, while magistrates in Furness and District, Cumbria, taking just 37 days. As a highlight, the BBC provide a table of the ten slowest magistrate court justice areas in England:

Source: BBC, http://bbc.in/1ir5am5

Source: BBC News, 7 Sep 2015, ‘Magistrates’ warning as court delays create ‘postcode lottery’: http://bbc.in/1ir5am5

The Independent recently reported that in the past few weeks over 50 magistrates have left the bench in protest over new charges now imposed by courts on defendants, irrespective of means. Among the dissenters are a Crown Court judge and Britain’s most senior criminal barrister, who argue the charges are “extremely unfair” and could “trigger more crime”.

For the BBC News article, please click here.

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