Skip to main content

Accessibility controls

Text size
Contrast
Main content area

CPS data summary Quarter 1 2020-2021

|Publication

Introduction

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the Criminal Justice System (CJS). For context, ‘lockdown’ measures were announced in the Prime Minister’s 23 March statement on COVID-19, priority courts were put in place from 30 March, the CPS issued its Interim Charging Protocol on 1 April, and guidance on the application of the Public Interest test was issued on 14 April to manage demand on the CJS, requiring prosecutors to consider the impact of the pandemic when deciding whether charges are in the public interest.

The HMCTS recovery overview sets out in detail the challenges faced by the CJS in Q1 of 20/21. To summarise, the CJS continued to operate throughout Q1, but at a significantly reduced scale. In Q1, the number of half day sessions conducted by the CPS was 31,394. This contrasts with Q4, where the number of half day sessions conducted was 77,855, a drop of 60%. In the first two months of the quarter the number of half day sessions dropped by 75% in the magistrates’ court and by 65% in the Crown Court. While the CPS was able to finalise a significant number of cases in the Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court, there was a dramatic fall in court capacity.

Throughout April and May, hearings related to custody time limits, decisions on detention and bail, and urgent applications for matters such as terrorism and domestic abuse were prioritised. Serious and time-sensitive youth cases were also prioritised, wherever possible, as well as cases involving assaults on emergency workers. Audio/video technology was used to enable remote hearings, and rollout of the Cloud Video Platform was accelerated - the pace at which this technology was brought online has enabled many more cases to be finalised than would otherwise have been possible.

Despite innovations introduced during this period, social distancing has had a significant impact on the progression of cases through the CJS, and although preliminary hearings can be carried out with most participants attending remotely, trials and sentencing hearings usually require physical attendance in court. Jury trials were particularly affected, with many courtrooms not being large enough to accommodate the jury and all courts users safely. This continues to pose a significant challenge, though jury trials re-started in May, where feasible, and the number of courts in operation continues to increase.

The focus of this summary is therefore the impact of COVID-19 in Q1 20/21 - a period during which the pandemic had a significant impact on the CJS. Key points to note:

  • The CPS switched to working remotely in Q4 2019/20 and capacity for pre-charge decision-making was relatively unaffected.
    • The volume of charged suspects decreased slightly, from 37,403 in Q4 19/20 to 35,799 in Q1 20/21.
  • Note, however, that the significant reduction in court capacity meant that far fewer cases could be finalised in Q1 than is ordinarily the case.
    • Magistrates’ Court finalisations fell by over two thirds. In Q1 20/21 there were just under 33,000 finalisations, compared to an average of 96,000 across the last three quarters of 19/20.
    • Finalisations in the Crown Court decreased significantly, from 14,609 in Q4 19/20 to 8,609 in Q1 20/21. Very few jury trials took place in Q1, which means that the majority of finalisations were sentencing or guilty pleas.
  • There was therefore a disparity between receipts and finalisations, leading to an increasing backlog.
    • The total live caseload at the end of Q1 20/21 stood at just over 170,000 outstanding cases.  The live caseload in the Magistrates’ Court has more than doubled over the past quarter, from 64,201 in Q4 19/20 to 123,287 in Q1 20/21, demonstrating that a backlog is developing in the Magistrates’ Court.
  • The CPS introduced guidance on the application of the Public Interest test on 14 April to prioritise more serious cases and ensure that prosecutors consider the impact of the pandemic when weighing up whether prosecution or continuing proceedings are in the public interest.  There has been an overall significant decrease in the volume of dropped cases in Q1.  Of those cases that were dropped, there has been an increase in the proportion that were dropped for public interest reasons, though the actual volume of cases dropped for public interest reasons has decreased.  Note also that far fewer cases were finalised in court during this period, leading to fewer cases being dropped for victim and witness reasons.
    • The volume of dropped cases has fallen by approximately 50% over the last 4 quarters, from just over 12,155 in Q2 19/20 to 5,999 in Q1 20/21.  In Q1 20/21, 38% of dropped cases were dropped for evidential reasons, 35% were dropped for public interest reasons and 24% for victim & witness reasons. This is a percentage point fall of 2 for evidential reasons, a percentage point rise of 13 for public interest reasons, and a percentage point fall of 8 for victim and witness reasons.

Overall pre-charge and prosecutions

ReceiptsThe volume of pre-charge receipts from the police continued to rise, from 61,179 in Q4 19/20 to 64,007 in Q1 20/21.
TimelinessThe number of days to charge decreased from 32.03 in Q4 19/20 to 29.04 in Q1 20/21.
Charging

The volume of charged suspects decreased, from 37,403 in Q4 19/20 to 35,799 in Q1 20/21.

The proportion of suspects charged (out of all legal decisions) was 73.1% in Q4 20/21 - a slight decrease on the previous quarter.

Completed prosecutionsThe volume of completed prosecutions dropped significantly, from 107,497 in Q4 19/20 to 41,508 in Q1 20/21 - a decrease of 61.4%.  Although there has been a general downward trend in the volumes of completed prosecutions over the past four quarters, this is a significant drop.
Convictions

The volume of convictions dropped significantly, from 90,959 in Q4 19/20 to 32,331 in Q1 20/21 - a decrease of 64.5%.

The conviction rate also dropped, from 84.6% in Q4 19/20 to 77.9% in Q1 20/21.

Hate Crime

ReceiptsPolice receipts fell from 10,749 in 2018/19 to 9,420 in Q1 2020/21.
Completed prosecutions

The impact of COVID-19 on the progression of prosecutions through the courts is reflected by the reduction of volumes in completed prosecutions in Q1 20/21. Completed prosecutions fell from 12,828 in 18/19 to 9,925 in Q1 20/21 RYTD.

Owing to the impact of COVID-19, there was a decrease in the volume of completed prosecutions - 1,171 in Q1 20/21, in comparison with 2,547 in Q4 19/20. This is a decrease of 54%, in comparison with a 61.4% overall drop in prosecutions over the same period.

UpliftsThe proportion of successful outcomes with an announced and recorded sentence uplift increased over the period from 73.6% in 2018/19 to 78.4% in Q1 20/21 RYTD.
Conviction rateDespite the falling volumes in completed prosecutions, the conviction rate remained steady at 84.3% in 18/19 and 84.7% in Q1 20/21 RYTD.

Domestic Abuse

Receipts

The volume of pre-charge receipts from the police decreased to 79,923 in Q1 20/21 RYTD from 98,470 in 18/19.

However, there was an increase over the past two quarters, from 20,153 in Q4 19/20 to 21,789 in Q1 20/21.

Timeliness

The average time to charge for the police and CPS rose to 15.9 days in Q1 20/21 RYTD from 8.9 days in 2018/19.

There as also a slight increase in the average time for the police and CPS to charge over the past quarter, from 15.10 days in Q4 19/20 to 15.35 days in Q1 20/21.

Charging

The volume of suspects charged fell to 53,659 in Q1 20/21 RYTD from 67,462 in 18/19.

There was also a slight decrease in the volume of suspects charged over the past quarter, from 13,688 in Q4 19/20 to 13,287 in Q1 20/21 – a 2.9% decrease, in comparison with a 4.3% decrease for all prosecutions.

Completed prosecutions

The volume of completed prosecutions fell to 53,236 in Q1 2020/21 RYTD from 78,624 in 2018/19.

Over the past quarter and owing to the impact of COVID-19 on the CJS, there was a significant decrease in volume of completed prosecutions, from 14,227 in Q4 2019/20, to 8,744 in Q1 2020/21.  This is a 38.5% decrease, in comparison with a 61.4% decrease in all completed prosecutions over the same period.

Dropped prosecutionsThe proportion of prosecutions dropped decreased in Q1 20/21 RYTD to 16.8% compared with 17.5% in 18/19.

Rape

Receipts

The volume of pre-charge receipts from the police fell to 2,927 in Q1 20/21 RYTD, from 3,375 in 18/19.

There was, however, an increase in pre-charge receipts for rape over the past quarter, from 744 in Q4 19/20 to 856 in Q1 20/21.

Timeliness

The average time for the police and CPS to charge increased in Q1 20/21 RYTD to 145 days, from 108 days in 18/19.

Over the past quarter, however, the average time for the police and CPS to charge decreased to 145.96 days in Q1 20/21, from 147.45 in Q4 19/20.

Charging

The proportion of suspects charged (out of all legal decisions) has increased to 59.5% in Q1 20/21 RYTD, from 48.2% in 18/19.

Over the past quarter, the proportion of suspects charged (out of all legal decisions) fell to 58.3% in Q1 20/21, from 63.0% in Q4 19/20.

There was an increase in the volume of suspects charged - 1,931 in Q1 20/21 RYTD compared with 1,758 in 18/19.

Over the past quarter, the volume of suspects charged decreased, from 503 in Q4 19/20 to 487 in Q1 20/21. This is a fall of 3.2%, in comparison with a fall of 4.3% in the overall volume of all charges over the same period.

Despite the decrease from Q4 19/20 to Q1 20/21, the volume of charges in Q1 20/21 - 487 - was higher than the average volume of charges per quarter in 19/20 - 467.

Admin finalised

‘Admin finalised’, out of all pre-charge decisions, fell to 24.2% Q1 2020/21 RYTD compared with 28.6% 2018/19.

Over the past quarter, the proportion of ‘admin finalised’ out of all pre-charge decisions increased slightly, from 23.0% in Q4 2019/20 to 24.5% in Q1 2020/21.

Prosecutions

The volume of completed prosecutions fell to 1,727 in Q1 20/21 RYTD from 3,034 in 18/19.

Owing to the impact of COVID-19 on the CJS outlined above, the volume of completed prosecutions fell considerably in Q1 20/21, from 480 in Q4 19/20 to 218 in Q1 2020/21. This is a 54.6% decrease, in comparison with a 61.4% decrease in all completed prosecutions over the same period.

Impact of COVID-19

The Covid-19 outbreak presents an unprecedented challenge for the criminal justice system (CJS) in England and Wales. The scale and seriousness of the situation has created significant difficulties for the criminal justice process. For context, ‘lockdown’ measures were announced in the Prime Minister’s 23 March statement on COVID-19, priority courts were put in place from 30 March, and the CPS issued its Interim Charging Protocol on 1 April. Guidance for prosecutors on the application of the Public Interest test was issued on 14 April to manage demand on the CJS, requiring prosecutors to consider the impact of the pandemic when deciding whether charges are in the public interest.

The HMCTS recovery overview sets out in detail the challenges faced by the CJS in Q1 of 20/21. To summarise, the CJS continued to operate throughout Q1, but at a significantly reduced scale. In Q1, the number of half day sessions conducted by the CPS was 31,394. This contrasts with Q4, where the number of half day sessions conducted was 77,855, a drop of 60%. In the first two months of the quarter the number of half day sessions dropped by 75% in the magistrates’ court and by 65% in the Crown Court. While the CPS was able to finalise a significant number of cases in the Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court, there was a dramatic fall in court capacity.

Summary

Since the lockdown, audio/video technology has been used to enable remote hearings, and the rollout of the Cloud Video Platform was accelerated - the pace at which this technology was brought online has enabled many more cases to be finalised than would otherwise have been possible.

Despite innovations introduced during this period, social distancing has had a significant impact on the progression of cases through the CJS, and although preliminary hearings can be carried out with most participants attending remotely, trials and sentencing hearings usually require physical attendance in court. Jury trials were particularly affected.

Owing to reduced court capacity, the CPS’ live caseload has increased significantly, despite a relatively static volume of receipts, caused by a drop in finalisations.

Growing backlog in magistrates' courts

The CPS has continued to receive Magistrates’ Court receipts, despite the significant reduction in court capacity. This has created a sudden increase in the number of live cases.

The significant reduction in court capacity meant that far fewer cases could be finalised in Q1 than is ordinarily the case. Magistrates’ Court finalisations fell by over two thirds. In Q1 20/21 there were just under 33,000 finalisations, compared to an average of 96,000 across the last three quarters of 19/20.

The total live caseload at the end of Q1 20/21 stood at just over 170,000 outstanding cases. The live caseload in the Magistrates’ Court has more than doubled over the past quarter, from 64,201 in Q4 19/20 to 123,287 in Q1 20/21, demonstrating that a backlog is developing in the Magistrates’ Court.

Emerging backlog in Crown Courts

The Crown Court has faced a different issue - very few cases were progressing from the Magistrates’ Court to the Crown Court, meaning that although the live caseload in the Crown Court was not increasing at the same rate, the true number of cases that would require a Crown Court hearing is not yet apparent.

The increase over the previous four quarters in the live caseload in the Crown Court is smaller, from 45,268 in Q4 19/20 to 47,566 in Q1 20/21, though it is expected to grow in Q2, when increased capacity in the Magistrates’ Court will lead to more referrals to the Crown Court and therefore a growing backlog.

Finalisations in the Crown Court decreased significantly, from 14,609 in Q4 19/20 to 8,609 in Q1 20/21. Very few jury trials took place for part of Q1, which means that the majority of finalisations were sentencing or guilty pleas.


About CPS data

The CPS uses management information to understand and address performance issues. This data is regularly shared with partners in the Criminal Justice System to improve understanding of efficiency and effectiveness, and where necessary, support the development of system-wide reforms.

Previously, the CPS has published annual data on Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) offences and hate crime. In order to enhance accountability and transparency in regards to CPS performance, the CPS will now publish quarterly data on a wider range of offence types.

The CPS does not publish official statistics. The official statistics relating to crime and policing are maintained by the Home Office and Office for National Statistics. Official statistics relating to sentencing, criminal court proceedings, offenders brought to justice, the courts and the judiciary are maintained by the Ministry of Justice. CPS management information is derived from the CPS case management system, and as with any large scale recording system, data is subject to possible errors in entry and processing. The figures are provisional and subject to change as more information is recorded by the CPS.

Note in particular that the CPS maintains a central record of prosecution outcomes with reference to a number of case monitoring flags, including modern slavery and human trafficking, hate crime, domestic abuse, and rape. CPS statistics are dependent upon lawyers and administrative staff identifying and correctly flagging cases on the case management system. CPS data is accurate only to the extent that flags have been correctly applied. Note also that:

  • A flag is applied at the onset of any case referred by the police to the CPS, and remains in place even if the charge is not proceeded with, is amended, or dropped.
  • A flag may be applied at a later point which differs from that originally identified by the police.
  • Although charges specifically related to a flag may be considered at the time of the pre-charge decision, the defendant may in fact be charged with another offence. Similarly, there may be cases where a person is convicted of a lesser offence than that with which they were proceeded against.

Understanding CPS Data Definitions and Caveats

In these statistics, a defendant represents one person in a single set of proceedings, which may involve one or more charges. A set of proceedings usually relates to an incident or series of related incidents that are the subject of a police file. If a set of proceedings relates to more than one person then each is counted as a defendant. Sometimes one person is involved in several sets of proceedings during the same year: if so, he or she is counted as a defendant on each occasion.

The quarterly casework statistics in these reports, comprise defendants dealt with by the 14 CPS Areas, the specialised casework handled by the Central Casework Divisions which include, those proceedings previously conducted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Department of Health (DoH) and the former Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office.

The data that forms the basis of this data release is derived from the CPS Case Management System (CMS) and its associated Management Information System (MIS). The data is held within a database within the MIS, based on defendants. The tables include total data on all defendants irrespective of sex or gender. Data has been broken down by overall volumes and proportions.

Pre-charge decision data

Pre-charge receipts:

The total number of suspects referred by the police to the CPS for a charging decision.

The number of pre-charge receipts, for different crime types, referred by the police relies on (a) the police identifying and flagging the cases, by suspect, prior to being referred to CPS and (b) CPS administrators identifying and flagging those cases on the CPS Casework Management System, when they are first registered.

Pre-charge decisions:

Of all the suspects referred by the police, pre-charge decisions are those where CPS has completed making a decision on whether to charge, take no further action, recommend an out of court decision, administratively finalise or ‘other’. The volume of pre-charge decisions, for each different crime type, completed by the CPS will be a total of those referred by the police (flagged by the police and CPS at registration) together with any flagged by CPS prosecutors and administrators at a later date, but before the final pre-charge decision is completed. The total pre-charge decision data is based on the date the charging advice was completed and provided to the police. Therefore, data in this data release may include pre-charge decisions on cases referred by the police to the CPS in previous quarters or years.

Pre-charge legal decisions include: charge, take no further action or recommend an out of court decision.

Charged:

Charging decisions are where CPS is satisfied that the legal test for prosecution, set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors is met: there is enough evidence to provide a ‘realistic prospect of conviction’ against each defendant and the prosecution is in the public interest.

No Further Action:

NFA decisions are where CPS has decided that no further action should be taken; the case cannot proceed to charge as it does not meet the Code for Crown Prosecutor test, for either evidential or public interest reasons.

Out of court disposals:

A simple caution, conditional caution, reprimand, final warning or TIC (taken into consideration) issued by the CPS at pre-charge stage.

Pre-charge non-legal decisions include: administratively finalised and ‘other’.

Administratively finalised:

Administratively finalised decisions are not legal decisions and may not be the end of the case.

The reasons for recording an administrative finalisation include:

  • The CPS may ask the police to provide further information where there is insufficient evidence to make a charging decision, or the police are requesting early investigative advice. If the police do not respond within three months, following reminders, the case is closed on CMS. If the police provide additional evidence, the case is reopened in CMS and, if possible, a charging decision is made.
  • Cases where the CPS have advised the police to charge but the suspect has not been charged, due to the suspect not answering police bail or being located, will also be administratively finalised. If the suspect is subsequently located and charged the case is reopened in CMS.
  • Cases where a file submission has been rejected at triage because items are missing, and the police have been asked to supply the additional material and have not responded to reminders.
  • Where the case has been returned to the police, with or without a lawyer’s advice and/or actions, and the police decide to take no further action on the allegation.
  • The suspect has died.

Other:

The result of the charging decision is not known or has not been given for that suspect.

Prosecution Outcomes Data

CPS outcomes are recorded on a defendant basis. In some cases, a number of defendants may be prosecuted together. All defendants may be convicted; all may be acquitted; or some may be convicted and others acquitted.

Conviction Outcomes:

Guilty pleas:

The defendant pleads guilty. The data includes defendants who pleaded guilty to some charges, and were either convicted or dismissed after trial of other charges.

Convictions after trial:

The defendant pleads not guilty but is convicted by the magistrates or by a jury after evidence is heard.

Proofs in absence:

These are mostly minor motoring matters which are heard by the court in the absence of the defendant.

Non-Conviction Outcomes:

Acquittals/Dismissals after trial:

The defendant pleads not guilty and, following a trial, is acquitted by the jury or proceedings are dismissed by the magistrates.

Prosecutions Dropped:

Consideration of the evidence and of the public interest may lead the CPS to discontinue or drop proceedings at any time before the start of the trial. The figures include both cases discontinued in advance of the hearing, where the CPS offered no evidence and those withdrawn at court. Also included are cases in which the defendant was bound over to keep the peace.

Administratively Finalised (post charge):

When the prosecution cannot proceed because the defendant has failed to appear at court and a Bench Warrant has been issued for his or her arrest; or the defendant has died; been found unfit to plead; or where proceedings are adjourned indefinitely. If the police trace a missing defendant, then proceedings can continue.

Discharged:

Committal proceedings in which the defendant is discharged.

Principal Offence Category Data

The Principal Offence Category indicates the most serious offence with which the defendant is charged at the time of finalisation. Where the nature of the charges alters during the life of a case, the Principal Offence at the time of finalisation may be different than would have seemed appropriate at an earlier stage of proceedings. In all such cases the Principal Offence category to be recorded is that which applies at finalisation, regardless of whether this is more serious, or less serious, than would have applied earlier in the life of the case.   

Offences are divided into: homicide, offences against the person, sexual offences, burglary, robbery, theft & handling, fraud & forgery, criminal damage, drugs offences, public order, motoring, and all other offences excluding motoring.

CPS records do not identify the principal offence for cases resulting in an administrative finalisation or where the defendant has been committed for sentence. These are excluded from Table 3.1, Prosecution Data Tables.

Monitoring Flags

The CPS monitoring of cases involving offences of child abuse, crimes against older people, domestic abuse, hate crime, modern slavery and rape involve the application of monitoring ‘flags’ or case-markers to applicable cases that are recorded on the CPS’ electronic Case Management System (CMS). The data that is produced through the application of the flag is primarily used for monitoring performance on all cases that involve allegations or charges where these categories of criminal offending apply. The data is accurate only to the extent that the flags have been correctly applied.

The flag is applied from the onset of the case and will remain in place even if the charges are later amended or dropped. If a case commences under a different offence but during the prosecution an applicable charge is preferred, the case is flagged at that stage.

Child Abuse:

Any criminal offence which falls within the criteria set out in Appendix A of the Working Together to Safeguard Children document and/or as defined in the CPS legal guidance on Child Abuse and involves a victim under the age of 18.

Child abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual criminal offences, as well as neglect, of a child. Such cases would normally include, for example:

  • parental assault where reasonable chastisement is not a defence;
  • sexual offences;
  • child homicides;
  • child cruelty, including neglect;
  • child prostitution;
  • harassment;
  • abandonment of a child;
  • forced marriage involving an under 18 year-old;
  • child pornography;
  • trafficked children;
  • familial abduction; and
  • non-recent child abuse where victim is now an adult.

Cases that would not normally be expected to be flagged include:

  • motoring offences where the child has been injured or killed;
  • medical negligence; and
  • property offences.

Crime against an Older Person:

Where the victim is 65 or over, any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be committed by reason of the victim’s vulnerability through age or presumed vulnerability through age.

Disability Hate Crime:

Any incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards a person because of their disability or perceived disability.

Domestic Abuse:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between those who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. Family members include mother, father, son, daughter, sister, and grandparents, whether directly related, in laws or step family. This is not an exhaustive list and may also be extended to uncles, aunts, cousins etc.

Homophobic Crime:

Any incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation.

Human Trafficking/Modern Slavery

The following offences are flagged as human trafficking/modern slavery.

  • Offences committed prior to 31st July 2015, are:
  • Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Section 57)
  • Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Section 58)
  • Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Section 59)
  • Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Section 59A)
  • Asylum and Immigration [Treatment of Claimants] Act 2004 Section 4(1)
  • Asylum and Immigration [Treatment of Claimants] Act 2004 Section 4(2)
  • Asylum and Immigration [Treatment of Claimants] Act 2004 Section 4(3)
  • Asylum and Immigration [Treatment of Claimants] Act 2004 Section 4(1A)
  • Asylum and Immigration [Treatment of Claimants] Act 2004 Section 4(1B)
  • Asylum and Immigration [Treatment of Claimants] Act 2004 Section 4(1C)
  • Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (Section 71)

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 came into force on 31st July 2015. The offences to be flagged after this date are:

  • Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Section 1(a))
  • Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Section 1(b))
  • Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Section 2)
  • Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Section 4(2))
  • Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Section 4(3))

Racist Crime:

Any incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s ethnicity or perceived ethnicity.

Religious Crime:

Any incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s religion or perceived religion.

Rape:

The following offences are defined and flagged as rape by the CPS.

  • S1 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  • S5 Sexual Offences Act 1956
  • S1 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • S5 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • S30(3) Sexual Offences act 2003, also
    • An attempt to commit any of the above offences under the Criminal Attempts Act 1981
    • Incitement or conspiracy to commit any of the above offences

Transphobic Crime:

Any incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s transgender identity or perceived transgender identity.

CPS Annual Data Tables

The data that forms the basis of the annual tables is derived from the CPS Case Management System (CMS), CPS Witness Management System (WMS) and its associated Management Information System (MIS). Defendant and complainant/witness data is held within separate databases within the MIS. Data cannot be correlated between the separate databases. The data tables include total data on all perpetrators and complainants, irrespective of sex or gender.

The Annual Data Tables for Violence against Women and Girls, Rape and Hate Crime provide breakdowns of pre-charge decisions and prosecution outcomes by CPS Area and by the originating Police Force Area.

Included are tables showing national breakdowns of the equality profiles of defendants and complainants for the most recent complete financial year.

In relation to complainant data, the WMS is a bespoke case management system designed by and for specialist Witness Care Unit (WCU) staff to effectively manage their cases. The WMS records complainant and witness data and, where recorded, the system includes data reporting equality profiles of complainants (and witnesses). The WMS can only provide data on the volumes of complainants associated with prosecution proceedings, by sex and age (where available), rather than the outcome of those prosecutions. It does not include any data which reports the volumes of alleged complainants associated with pre-charge proceedings and therefore cannot include data on police referrals and CPS charging.

Reasons for non-convictions

All cases resulting in an outcome other than a conviction are allocated a reason explaining why the case failed. If more than one reason applies, the principal reason is selected. Cases resulting in a post charge administrative finalisation are allocated the reason 'Admin Finalised'; no other reason need be recorded. If the defendant pleads not guilty, evidence is heard and the defence is required to present its case; and the case then results in acquittal or dismissal, then the reason 'Acquittal after trial' is allocated; no other reason applies. A reason must be allocated for all other non-conviction outcomes i.e. discontinued; withdrawn; no evidence offered; no case to answer; prosecution stayed; indictment stayed; left on file; judge directed acquittal; discharged committal.

Acquittals after trial: The defendant is found not guilty by the magistrates or jury after a contested hearing in which the defence is called on to present its case (Cases dismissed no case to answer or judge directed acquittals are not included).

Post-charge Administrative Finalisation: When a prosecution cannot proceed because a defendant: has failed to appear at court and a Bench Warrant has been issued for his or her arrest; or the defendant has died, or is found unfit to plead: or where proceedings are adjourned indefinitely. If a Bench Warrant is executed the case may be reopened.

Complainant Issues: During 2018-19, the CPS revised the list of reasons which apply to non-conviction outcomes. As a result it is no longer possible to separately report complainant retraction or withdrawal and non-attendance. It is however, still possible to report the total number of non-conviction outcomes due to complainant specific issues.

The reason should be used when the evidence of the complainant supports the prosecution case, but one or all of the following apply:

  • the complainant fails to attend, or
  • refuses to be called, or
  • to give evidence as a witness, or
  • withdraws a complaint, and
  • includes complainants who have been intimidated but it is inappropriate to compel them to attend court.

and

If the evidence of the complainant fails to support the prosecution of the defendant including issues of credibility leading to a non-conviction outcome, but the complainant has not retracted.

All Other Reasons: These include all other evidential reasons or where it was not in the public interest to continue the prosecution.

Equality Profiles

The equality profiles of defendants and complainants, by sex and age are reported on in these data tables. Also included is a breakdown by ethnicity for defendants flagged as domestic abuse.

Data on the gender of defendants and complainants are held in the CPS Management Information System, however the records are not complete. The gender of the defendant is unknown in some cases and may not be recorded in others.

Data on the age of defendants and complainants are collated by the CPS with reference to a series of age bands calculated from the date of birth recorded by the police. This means that the age band defendants are allocated to represents their current age rather than their age at the time the offence was committed. Individual ages cannot be disaggregated from these bands. The age band information should not be viewed as a comprehensive record of defendants' ages. Defendants with no date of birth recorded are allocated to a 'not provided' category.

Data on the ethnicity of defendants and complainants are collected by the CPS in accordance with the agreed Criminal Justice System definitions for the 16+1 self-defined ethnicity (SDE) categories. Police forces are required to use the SDE 16+1 codes when spoken contact has taken place and an individual has been given an opportunity to state their self-perceived ethnicity. Defendants may not state their ethnicity or it may not be recorded. Ethnicity data are provided by the police and are subject to varying levels of error and omission at local levels. We do not consider therefore that full reliance can be placed on this information.

Data Caveats

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) caseload data are available through its Case Management System (CMS) and associated Management Information System (MIS). The CPS collects data to assist in the effective management of its prosecution functions. The CPS does not collect data which constitutes official statistics as defined in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

These data have been drawn from the CPS's administrative IT system, which, as with any large scale recording system, is subject to possible errors with data entry and processing. The figures are provisional and subject to change as more information is recorded by the CPS. We are committed to improving the quality of our data and from mid-June 2015 introduced a new data assurance regime which may explain some unexpected variance in some future data sets.

The official statistics relating to crime and policing are maintained by the Home Office and the official statistics relating to sentencing, criminal court proceedings, offenders brought to justice, the courts and the judiciary are maintained by the Ministry of Justice.

Available to download

Prosecutions Quarterly Reports: Year Ending June 2020
Pre-charge Quarterly Reports Quarter 1 2020-2021
Prosecutions Quarterly Reports: Defendant Demographics Quarter 1 2020-20212020
Hate Crime and Violence Against Women and Girls Annual Data tables: Year Ending June 2020
Additional Data: Impact of COVID-19: Quarter 1 2020-2021
Scroll to top