Case Processing Time for Criminal Cases dealt with at Courts in Northern Ireland 2018/19 published today.

Date published: 04 September 2019

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published a Research and Statistical Bulletin on ‘Case Processing Time for Criminal Cases dealt with at Courts in Northern Ireland 2018/19’. 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 2018 – 31 March 2019 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 taken for cases to be completed is at its highest point in recent years.  While change in time taken for the completion of charge cases compared with 2017/18 varied according to court type, the increase in processing times for cases dealt with by way of summons showed a consistent increase for all court types. 

All Courts

  • In 2018/19, the median time taken for a case to be dealt with, at all courts, was 167 days.  This is an increase of 3.1% from the previous year (162 days) and is the 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 2018/19, the median time taken for a case to be dealt with at court, in relation to charge cases dealt with at Crown Court, was 416 days.  This is a decrease of 2.6% from the previous year. 
  • In 2018/19, the median time taken for a case to be dealt with at court, in relation to summons cases dealt with at Crown Court, was 866 days.  This is an increase of 8.0% from the previous year.
     
    Adult Magistrates’ Courts
  • In 2018/19, the median time taken for a case to be dealt with at court, in relation to charge cases dealt with at adult magistrates’ courts, was 70 days.  This is an increase of 1.4% from 2017/18. 
  • In 2018/19, the median time taken for a case to be dealt with at court, in relation to summons cases dealt with at adult magistrates’ courts, was 201 days.  This is an increase of 1.5% from 2017/18 and is the highest median value recorded for this type of case in the last five years. 
     
    Youth Magistrates’ Courts
  • In 2018/19, the median time taken for a case to be dealt with at court, in relation to charge cases dealt with at youth magistrates’ courts, was 114 days.  This is an increase of 3.6% from the median of 110 days taken in 2017/18. 
  • In 2018/19, the median time taken for a case to be dealt with at court, in relation to summons cases dealt with at youth magistrates’ courts, was 265 days. This is an increase of 6.9% from the median of 248 days taken in 2017/18 and is the highest median value recorded for this type of case in the last five years.
     
    Processing times by Offence Category
  • In 2018/19, the median time taken to complete cases where the main offence was a public order one was 138 days, compared to a median time of 667 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: 

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 2018 – 31 March 2019.  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 2018/19 year have been compared with those for cases disposed in the previous four years.

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.

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.

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. 

Further information on this bulletin is availableon the Justice website at Justice/Statistics and research publications or via contacting 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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