The new data, published by the Ministry of Justice, covers the first three months of 2020

New justice statistics released today (25 June) reveal some concerning issues for victims of sexual offences and of domestic abuse.

The Ministry of Justice has published several sets of data related to the justice system including the Criminal court statistics quarterly: January to March 2020 and  Family Court Statistics Quarterly: January to March 2020.

The criminal court data shows a worrying issue in relation to victims of sexual offences in that they have the longest waiting times before they get to trial of any offence group (20.2 weeks).

Most of this data is pre COVID19, but the statistic do start to show the effect of the pandemic with already substantial backlogs increasing further.

Reacting to these figures, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales Dame Vera Baird QC said: “We have yet more worrying statistics released today about delays in the criminal justice system. And it must be remembered these only capture the first week of the lockdown, the point when all courts were shut down.

“We know rape charges and prosecutions have plummeted and where there are prosecutions, victim drop-out rates have increased. This is hardly surprising when victims are having to wait so long for their cases to get to trial.”

In Magistrates’ courts the backlog has increased by 11% compared to the same period last year, and for Crown Court the increase was 21%. Both are likely to continue to rise.

The family court data also reveals a 10% increase of people seeking domestic abuse-related orders compared to last year, with almost 9 out of 10  orders requests being for non-molestation orders.

Dame Vera said: “Previously, people who reported abuse to the police would have been able to rely on the protection of bail conditions being imposed on the suspect.

“But since the 2017 changes to bail legislation, they have been left vulnerable and needing to seek their own protection through these civil orders.

“This is unacceptable. The government must legislate to rectify this as it clearly puts victims at risk.  The Domestic Abuse Bill, going through parliament at the moment, offers an opportunity to change the law quickly” she concluded.