This briefing explains where to find and how to interpret statistics on criminal and civil courts in England and Wales. It covers magistrates’, Crown, and civil courts and tribunals.
The latest figures show that:
- The annual criminal court caseload has been steadily declining over the last ten years. In 2020 it fell sharply as a result of the pandemic before rising in 2021 to a slightly lower level than it had been pre-pandemic.
- In 2021, magistrates’ courts in England and Wales received 1.14 million cases and Crown courts received 98,000 cases.
- Both the magistrates’ and Crown court have an ongoing backlog of cases, known as outstanding cases. At the end of September 2022, there were 347,820 outstanding cases in magistrates’ courts, which was lower than the peak of around 422,000 cases in mid-2020.
- The Crown court had 62,766 outstanding cases at the end of September 2022, which was higher than its previous peak of around 61,000 in mid-2021.
- The length of time between offence and completion of a criminal case has risen in each year since 2010. The median waiting time from offence to completion of cases in the magistrates’ court in 2021 was 196 days.
- In 2021, civil courts received 1.6 million claims and family courts started 266,000 cases.
- Waiting times for almost all types of civil and family cases were longer in 2021 than five years previously (the exception being financial remedy cases in the Family court).
- Complete tribunal statistics are only available up to 2020/21, in which year 305,000 cases were started. An interim estimate of outstanding cases as of June 2022 put the number at 650,000.
Court statistics for England and Wales are reported separately for different types of court: criminal, civil, and family. These statistics are published quarterly and annually and provide information about caseload and performance by tier of court. Tribunals statistics are also published separately, in a quarterly and annual release (by financial year).
This briefing summarises the statistics on:
- Court caseload
- The impact of COVID-19 on the courts
- Effectiveness of trials/ hearings
- Waiting times for trials/ hearings
- Legal representation of defendants and claimants
- Court workforce, including the number of judges and magistrates.
- Judicial diversity
- Courts expenditure.
An Excel file is provided containing the underlying data to charts.