Southwark Crown Court

News from Tony Arbour: Almost 200 court cases in London dropped or delayed every week

21 August 2013
  • 9,560 cases thrown out or delayed in London due to failings by prosecution or court system
  • Dropped and delayed cases estimated to cost taxpayer £17.4M nationally

23K (23,237) cases in London’s Crown and Magistrates courts were dropped or delayed in 2012.

Failings by the prosecution and court system were to blame for four in ten (9,560) thrown out or delayed cases in the Capital, working out at 184 every week.

London was the worst performing region when it came to cases being delayed (16% of cases at Crown Courts and 20% at Magistrates Court level classed as ‘ineffective’).

New report ‘Justice Postponed: Reducing the vast number of dropped trials’ shows cases failed because of prosecution not being ready, the absence of prosecution witnesses and advocates, or court administration failings:


Delayed cases

  • The prosecution not being ready (1,068 cases)
  • Prosecution failing to disclose unused evidence (403)
  • Absent witnesses on the prosecution side such as police and professional experts (1,552)
  • Prosecution advocates failing to attend or engaged in another trial (89)
  • No interpreter available (286)
  • Courtroom equipment failure (127)


Dropped cases

  • Insufficient evidence on the prosecution side (3,512)
  • Prosecution witness absent or withdrawn (2,523)


In England and Wales, over 30K (30,155) cases in Crown and Magistrates courts were thrown out or delayed in 2012 because of faults with the prosecution or court system, working out at 83 every day of the year. Over 100K (106,859) cases were dropped or delayed in total, costing an estimated £17.4 million in staff, legal adviser and judicial costs.

Tony Arbour, Conservative London Assembly Member and author of ‘Justice Postponed’, said:

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 swiftly. 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.

Notes to editors

Chris Hewett

Senior press officer

E: [email protected]

T: 020 7983 4960                   


Gordon Cameron

Press officer

E: [email protected]

T: 020 7983 4961


Chris Taylor

Press officer

E: [email protected]

T: 020 7983 4949

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