Bar Council warning over latest criminal justice figures

16 August 2019

Responding to the Ministry of Justice's Criminal Justice Statistics quarterly, England and Wales, April 2018 to March 2019, Richard Atkins QC, Chair of Bar Council, said:

"These statistics make for grim reading, however, the state of the criminal justice system is far worse than the figures show. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service said recently  that "overall police [crime] detection rates nationally are woefully low"  and that the "courts are emptying, not filling". If crime is not detected, it cannot be recorded, investigated or prosecuted, so the official figures are just the tip of an iceberg. Criminals are going about their business unchallenged: fraud goes virtually unpunished and is not even included in the statistics.  

"The recent focus on the state of the criminal justice system by the government is welcome, as are the additional resources, but the whole system is broken or breaking and the focus needs to be on every part: Legal Aid and access to legal representation, prosecution, courts, forensic science, probation, as well as police and prisons. The Bar Council, MPs, senior judges and others have been calling out for reversal of the draconian cuts to the justice budget - the steepest cuts to any public service. Our democracy, society and our economy depend on a properly functioning, fair, justice system, that the public can have faith in. Sadly we fear that this is no longer the case. 

"Criminals up and down the country will be rubbing their hands with glee knowing that even if their crimes are detected and they are caught by the police, the chances of them being prosecuted or jailed are slim." 

Ends

Notes to editors: 

Key statistics 

  • Home Office: Crime reported in England and Wales rose by 8 per cent to 5.9 million in the year to March, including increases in knife crime, robbery, firearms and public order offences. 

  • MoJ criminal justice system stats (April 2018-March 2019): The number of people prosecuted or handed penalties for crimes in England and Wales is at a record low. The figure dropped by 2 per cent to 1.59 million people up to March. 

  • 7.8 per cent of crimes saw a suspect charged or summonsed in 2018-19 compared to 9.1 per cent the year before. 

  • Funding for the Ministry of Justice has fallen by 27% (2008-18).

About the Bar Council

The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales (over 16,000). It promotes:

  •  The Bar's high-quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

Press contact: Press@BarCouncil.org.uk