Court delays due to time constraints down over last four years, figures reveal

Adjournments in Scotland’s courts due to a lack of court time have fallen over the last four years, new figures show.

Statistics reveal 3.5% of trials across all criminal courts were delayed because of time issues in the first three quarters of 2018-19.

This represents a drop of more than 2% when compared with the 5.6% recorded in 2014-15.

In the High Court of Justiciary specifically, the percentage of trials adjourned due to lack of court time fell from 2.2% in 2014-15 to 0.9% for the first three quarters of the current year.

Overall, the quarterly statistics from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) show there were 109,881 first instance criminal cases registered in courts last year (2017-18), a 25% drop in the number of cases registered in 2014-15.

Officials said most of the reduction can be attributed to “changes” in summary crime – those which do not involve juries and where there is a far greater volume of cases.

In the high court, where the most serious crimes are prosecuted, figures show the volume of indictments registered continues to be above 200 per quarter.

According to the publication, evidence-led trials during the same period continue to be “high”, with the trend in volume of cases expected to keep going due to increased reporting of sexual offending cases.

There were 236 high court trials scheduled at the end of the third quarter of 2018-19, a rise of 23% compared to the first quarter of the year.

There is also an “upward trend” in the cases scheduled to go before a jury at sheriff court level, when Q3 2018-19 is compared to the first two quarters of the year.

David Fraser, chief operations officer at the SCTS, said: “I am delighted to provide this information, which shows the trends in criminal cases over the last four years and represents another advance in the drive for openness and transparency on court activity.

“Overall, the data in this report show the system is performing well.

“The number of adjournments for lack of court time is down across all sectors which is a good indicator of overall performance.”

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