Criminal courts

Virtually all criminal court cases in England and Wales start in a magistrates’ court. The less serious offences (summary and some triable either-way) are handled entirely in magistrates’ courts.

More serious offences (triable either-way or indictable only) are passed via the magistrates’ court on to the Crown Court, either for sentencing after the defendant has been found guilty or for a trial with a judge and jury. The Crown Court also receives appeals against decisions of the magistrates’ courts.

The magistrates’ court is the first tier of criminal courts in England and Wales and is presided over by three ‘Justices of the Peace’ (known as lay magistrates) or by a district judge.

The Crown Court is a single entity that sits at various court centres across England and Wales, it predominately deals with serious criminal cases. Unlike the magistrates’ court, trials in the Crown Court have a jury to determine the guilt of defendants and a judge which can impose tougher sentences.

See statistics at MOJ.


Magistrates' courts receipts

A count of the number of cases where the case has been entered on the court administrative system (following a validation process) within the reporting period.

YearMagistrates' courts receipts
20181,469,429
20171,515,548
20161,529,018
20151,591,592
20141,607,163
20131,537,272
20121,169,522

Jan 2018 to Dec 2018 1,469,429


Magistrates' courts disposals

A count of the number of cases only when all the offences have been completed (following a validation process) in the reporting period. Disposals figures in this report may change if the case results are entered after the first collation of the data.

YearMagistrates' courts disposals
20181,473,485
20171,509,022
20161,566,357
20151,594,051
20141,570,660
20131,556,261
20121,179,639

Jan 2018 to Dec 2018 1,473,485


Magistrates' courts outstanding

A count of all cases where one or more offence remains incomplete. The data is a snapshot based on outstanding cases on the final day of the reporting period. This is a count of live cases on the system and is not a calculation based on receipts and disposals.

YearMagistrates' courts outstanding
2018293,386
2017297,593
2016291,025
2015327,228
2014326,437
2013288,946
2012307,803

Jan 2018 to Dec 2018 293,386


Magistrates' courts total number of trials

A trial in the magistrates’ court or Crown Court is a hearing at which the prosecution produces evidence to prove the case against the defendant.

Trials in the magistrates’ court are heard by two or three magistrates or by one district judge.

YearMagistrates' courts total number of trials
2018123,023
2017136,962
2016149,423
2015162,668
2014158,984
2013155,087
2012156,671
2011166,808
2010179,794
2009179,858
2008183,511
2007189,830
2006180,950
2005182,500
2004193,608
2003177,485

Jan 2018 to Dec 2018 123,023


Crown court receipts

A count of the number of cases where the case has been entered on the court administrative system (following a validation process) within the reporting period.

YearCrown court receipts
2018103,100
2017114,347
2016117,221
2015129,998
2014138,116
2013139,922
2012133,371
2011148,663
2010152,791
2009150,711
2008145,715
2007136,434
2006126,991
2005124,313
2004122,062
2003126,371
2002125,058
2001120,023
2000112,504

Jan 2018 to Dec 2018 103,100


Crown court disposals

A count of the number of cases only when all the offences have been completed (following a validation process) in the reporting period. Disposals figures in this report may change if the case results are entered after the first collation of the data.

YearCrown court disposals
2018109,271
2017118,605
2016126,284
2015134,359
2014132,327
2013130,382
2012138,313
2011150,156
2010153,759
2009147,161
2008142,323
2007134,717
2006126,515
2005121,099
2004125,066
2003125,520
2002123,048
2001115,403
2000116,492

Jan 2018 to Dec 2018 109,271


Crown court outstanding

A count of all cases where one or more offence remains incomplete. The data is a snapshot based on outstanding cases on the final day of the reporting period. This is a count of live cases on the system and is not a calculation based on receipts and disposals. Transferred cases may be double counted for a period while they show in both sending and receiving courts; offences subsequently entered in error may change the categorisation of the case.

YearCrown court outstanding
201832,546
201738,247
201642,149
201550,876
201455,116
201349,227
201239,586
201145,030
201047,085
200947,713
200844,455
200742,338
200641,746
200540,915
200436,614
200338,989
200238,103
200135,942
200031,183

Jan 2018 to Dec 2018 32,546


Crown court total number of trials

A trial in the magistrates’ court or Crown Court is a hearing at which the prosecution produces evidence to prove the case against the defendant.

Trials in the Crown Court are typically heard before a judge and jury.

YearCrown court total number of trials
201829,583
201734,579
201637,339
201539,035
201435,974
201333,669
201238,432
201141,703
201043,259
200939,262
200835,985
200737,285

Jan 2018 to Dec 2018 29,583