MINISTRY OF JUSTICE AND THE MISSING TRIAL STATISTICS

Like every other magistrate in England & Wales I am not legally qualified for this part time post but was selected because the Lord Chancellor and laterally the Secretary of State for Justice thought I had the appropriate competences. I hope I have not disappointed. No doubt some of my colleagues in their “other life” are professional researchers or mathematicians or statisticians. I write this because I have spent some time fruitlessly wading through the labyrinthine website of the Ministry of Justice searching for information on the outcomes of trials at Magistrates` Courts. This interest was stimulated because recently I have been involved in trials where more often or not[i.e. in more than 50%] the case against the defendant had not been proved beyond serious doubt by the Crown Prosecution Service and consequently s/he had been found not guilty. Apart from deciding whether a prosecution would be cost effective the CPS prosecutes when there is in its opinion more than a 50% chance of securing a conviction and whether or not a prosecution is in “the public interest”. So my recent experiences are perhaps a statistical anomaly. I just don`t know. So as I have written above I tried to find out.

In 1999 4% of trials in either way offences [see my previous blog on either way offences] at Magistrates` Courts ended in the defendants being found not guilty. In the same year 77% of defendants tried on summary offences were found guilty. But that was ten years ago. So in order to ascertain current figures for guilty after trial I returned to the MoJ website listed below for reference [Ch 7 p 135+]and the main findings there are orientated around time for this and time taken to do that broken down into umpteen subsections but nowhere is listed results of trials. Seems to me there is a similarity with statistics on NHS which initially at least revolved around targets for this and targets for that including “waiting times” which according to those who know far more than I distorted the very practices being measured. So why are there no facts on the outcomes of trials after 1999? I would welcome any comment to show where I am missing something and that these tables are available and I have not been bright enough to find them.

http://search.justice.gov.uk/kbroker/justice/justice/search/search.lsim?qt=trials+statistics+found+guilty+magistrates+courts+2008&sr=0&nh=10&cs=ISO-8859-1&sb=0&hs=0&sc=justice&oq=trials+statistics+verdicts+magistrates+courts+2008&sf=&ha=1178&mt=0

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