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.

Magistrates' courts receipts
Year Magistrates' courts receipts
2018 1,469,429
2017 1,515,548
2016 1,529,018
2015 1,591,592
2014 1,607,163
2013 1,537,272
2012 1,169,522

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.

Magistrates' courts disposals
Year Magistrates' courts disposals
2018 1,473,485
2017 1,509,022
2016 1,566,357
2015 1,594,051
2014 1,570,660
2013 1,556,261
2012 1,179,639

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.

Magistrates' courts outstanding
Year Magistrates' courts outstanding
2018 293,386
2017 297,593
2016 291,025
2015 327,228
2014 326,437
2013 288,946
2012 307,803

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.

Magistrates' courts total number of trials
Year Magistrates' courts total number of trials
2018 123,023
2017 136,962
2016 149,423
2015 162,668
2014 158,984
2013 155,087
2012 156,671
2011 166,808
2010 179,794
2009 179,858
2008 183,511
2007 189,830
2006 180,950
2005 182,500
2004 193,608
2003 177,485

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.

Crown court receipts
Year Crown court receipts
2018 103,100
2017 114,347
2016 117,221
2015 129,998
2014 138,116
2013 139,922
2012 133,371
2011 148,663
2010 152,791
2009 150,711
2008 145,715
2007 136,434
2006 126,991
2005 124,313
2004 122,062
2003 126,371
2002 125,058
2001 120,023
2000 112,504

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.

Crown court disposals
Year Crown court disposals
2018 109,271
2017 118,605
2016 126,284
2015 134,359
2014 132,327
2013 130,382
2012 138,313
2011 150,156
2010 153,759
2009 147,161
2008 142,323
2007 134,717
2006 126,515
2005 121,099
2004 125,066
2003 125,520
2002 123,048
2001 115,403
2000 116,492

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.

Crown court outstanding
Year Crown court outstanding
2018 32,546
2017 38,247
2016 42,149
2015 50,876
2014 55,116
2013 49,227
2012 39,586
2011 45,030
2010 47,085
2009 47,713
2008 44,455
2007 42,338
2006 41,746
2005 40,915
2004 36,614
2003 38,989
2002 38,103
2001 35,942
2000 31,183

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.

Crown court total number of trials
Year Crown court total number of trials
2018 29,583
2017 34,579
2016 37,339
2015 39,035
2014 35,974
2013 33,669
2012 38,432
2011 41,703
2010 43,259
2009 39,262
2008 35,985
2007 37,285

Jan 2018 to Dec 2018 29,583