Case Processing Time for Criminal Cases dealt with at Courts in Northern Ireland 2017/18 published today

Date published: 28 September 2018

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin 28/2018 ‘Case Processing Time for Criminal Cases dealt with at Courts in Northern Ireland 2017/18’. It is an Official Statistics Publication.

This bulletin presents data on the average[1] Case Processing Time for Criminal Cases dealt with in the Crown and magistrates’ courts in Northern Ireland for the year 1 April 2017 – 31 March 2018 and refers to the time from which the offence was reported to, or detected by, the police.

Summary

In general, the overall picture is that the time take for cases to be completed has started to reduce, from recent high recorded in 2016/17.  However, while there are decreases in processing times for charge cases, processing times for cases dealt with by way of summons have increased. 

All Courts

  • In 2017/18, the median time taken for a case to be disposed, at all courts, was 162 days.  This is a decrease of 1.8% from the previous year but is still the second highest figure recorded in the last five years and higher than the figure of 143 days recorded in 2014/15, the baseline year for this indicator under the Northern Ireland Civil Service Outcomes Delivery Plan. 
     
    Crown Court cases
  • In 2017/18, the median time taken for a case to be disposed at court, in relation to charge cases disposed at Crown Court, was 427 days.  This is a decrease of 10.3% from the previous year. 
  • In 2017/18, the median time taken for a case to be disposed at court, in relation to summons cases disposed at Crown Court, was 802 days.  This is an increase of 3.4% from the previous year.
     
    Adult Magistrates’ Courts
  • In 2017/18, the median time taken for a case to be disposed at court, in relation to charge cases disposed at adult magistrates’ courts, was 69 days.  This is a decrease of 2.8% from 2016/17. 
  • In 2017/18, the median time taken for a case to be disposed at court, in relation to summons cases disposed at adult magistrates’ courts, was 198 days.  This is an increase of 2.6% from 2016/17 and is the highest median value recorded for this type of case in the last five years. 
     
    Youth Magistrates’ Courts
  • In 2017/18, the median time taken for a case to be disposed at court, in relation to charge cases disposed at youth magistrates’ courts, was 110 days.  This is a decrease of 6.0% from the median of 117 days taken in 2016/17. 
  • In 2017/18, the median time taken for a case to be disposed at court, in relation to summons cases disposed at youth magistrates’ courts, was 248 days. This is an increase of 4.9% from the median of 237 days taken in 2016/17 and is the highest median value recorded for this type of case in the last five years.
     
    Processing times by Offence Category
  • In 2017/18, the median time taken to complete cases where the main offence was a public order one was 137 days, compared to a median time of 622 days taken for cases where the main offence was in the sexual offences category.

[1] Average is measured as the median number of days taken, i.e., the number of days at which 50% of those cases included under counting rules has been completed.

Notes to editors: 

1.  This bulletin presents data on the average Case Processing Time for Criminal Cases dealt with in the Crown and magistrates’ courts in Northern Ireland for the year 1 April 2017 – 31 March 2018.  The intention of the publication is to show the impact on performance over time of key ‘speeding up justice’ initiatives put in place through law reform and through administrative and practice improvements.  It aims to provide an overview of the time taken for a case to be disposed at court from the date that case began its journey through the criminal justice system, based on a start point of the date the offence was reported to, or detected by, the PSNI.  Analysis is also provided in relation to case type, i.e., whether it was a charge or summons case, and in relation to the type of court in which the case was disposed, i.e., Crown Court, adult magistrates’ courts or youth magistrates’ courts. Findings for the 2017/18 year have been compared with those for cases disposed in the previous four years.

2.  The data used in this bulletin were taken from the Causeway Data Sharing Mechanism (DSM1). Causeway is an interconnected information system, launched as a joint undertaking by the Criminal Justice Organisations (CJOs) in Northern Ireland.

3.  The figures reported in this bulletin, relate to cases disposed at court in the year specified, where the case was prosecuted by the Public Prosecution Service on behalf of PSNI, Harbour Police, Airport Constabulary or the National Crime Agency.    Cases disposed of through an out of court disposal, or which do not reach the end of the full court process, do not go through the standard stages of the court system and, as such, are not directly comparable with cases that have gone through the judicial system. Similarly, cases relating to breaches of court orders previously imposed are not included in the dataset, as they relate to a previous offence and have not proceeded through the various stages in the criminal justice process in the same way that cases relating to other offences may have.  They have therefore not been included in the figures reported.

4.  Official Statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.  They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs and are produced free from any political interference.  They are also subject to restrictions in terms of pre-release access. 

5.  The bulletin will be available in PDF format from either the DoJ web-site at Prosecutions and Convictions or Analytical Services Group, Financial Services Division, Block B, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 3SG

Email: statistics.research@justice-ni.x.gsi.gov.uk.

Press queries about this publication should be directed to the DoJ Press Office on telephone number 028 9052 6444.

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