Court failings scupper 500 cases a week

A total of 106,859 were dropped or delayed last year, costing £17m figures show

More than 500 court cases are being thrown out or delayed each week due to failings by prosecutors or in the court system, it has been claimed.

Government figures have shown that in total 106,859 cases before crown and magistrates’ courts were dropped or delayed in 2012, costing an estimated £17.4m.

Tony Arbour, Conservative London Assembly Member, said that 30,155 cases were delayed or thrown out because of court or prosecution failings, around 580 per week.

He said in a new report: “In general, the court system is chaotic and even the basics are not in place which often means cases cannot go ahead.

“Trials fall apart because witnesses are not told when to turn up, the Crown Prosecution Service fails to receive police evidence, or barristers fail to call witnesses who are waiting in court into the witness box.

“Witnesses and victims can often be vulnerable, chaotic and disorganised. Often, they don’t want to attend court and just want to get on with their lives. Yet the court system does more to discourage these people from coming forward rather than encouraging them.”

The delayed cases in 2012 included 3,091 that were put back because the prosecution was not ready and 5,159 that were put back because of absent prosecution witnesses, the report said. There were also 642 that were delayed because no interpreter was available, and another 224 were hit by failures in courtroom equipment.

Dropped cases included 10,025 that were stopped because of insufficient prosecution evidence, and 9,867 where a prosecution witness was absent or withdrawn.

Referring to the estimated financial cost, Mr Arbour added: “These enormous sums mask the even greater emotional cost to victims and witnesses, who may become so disillusioned with the courts that they will not use the justice system again, and, worse still not even bother to report crime.

“Only by getting the basics right will the CPS reduce the number of dropped and delayed cases and bring villains to justice effectively. Witnesses and victims need to know the exact time, day and place to attend, prosecution barristers should be able to see case papers in advance, not at 9am for a 10am start, and the CPS, police and prosecution barristers should directly communicate before the trial to make sure it is ready.”

In total 19,703 crown court cases out of 38,432 were dropped or delayed in 2012, and 87,156 out of a total of 156,671 in magistrates’ courts.

PA

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Life and Style
i100

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

year 4/5/6

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a full...

MFL TEACHER, SUPPLY VACANCY, LOVELY SITTINGBOURNE SCHOOL

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job We are currently recruit...

NQT Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: Randstad Education can provide you wit...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week