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 criminal court statistics at MOJ for further information.


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
2020 1,125,434
2019 1,443,208
2018 1,451,020
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 2020 to Dec 2020 1,125,434


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
2020 1,040,308
2019 1,441,778
2018 1,456,735
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 2020 to Dec 2020 1,040,308


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
2020 384,801
2019 300,229
2018 289,664
2017 297,593
2016 291,025
2015 327,228
2014 326,437
2013 288,946
2012 307,803

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 384,801


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
2020 57,388
2019 109,396
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 2020 to Dec 2020 57,388


Magistrates' courts effective trials

Effective trials as a percentage of total trials.

Magistrates' courts effective trials
Year Magistrates' courts effective trials
2020 44 %
2019 46 %
2018 46 %
2017 47 %
2016 47 %
2015 48 %
2014 45 %
2013 45 %
2012 44 %
2011 43 %
2010 43 %
2009 43 %
2008 43 %
2007 43 %
2006 44 %
2005 41 %
2004 37 %
2003 33 %

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 44 %


Magistrates' courts cracked trials

Cracked trials as a percentage of total trials.

Magistrates' courts cracked trials
Year Magistrates' courts cracked trials
2020 36 %
2019 39 %
2018 39 %
2017 38 %
2016 38 %
2015 37 %
2014 37 %
2013 38 %
2012 39 %
2011 39 %
2010 39 %
2009 38 %
2008 38 %
2007 38 %
2006 37 %
2005 37 %
2004 37 %
2003 38 %

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 36 %


Magistrates' courts ineffective trials

Ineffective trials as a percentage of total trials.

Magistrates' courts ineffective trials
Year Magistrates' courts ineffective trials
2020 20 %
2019 15 %
2018 16 %
2017 15 %
2016 15 %
2015 15 %
2014 18 %
2013 18 %
2012 17 %
2011 18 %
2010 18 %
2009 19 %
2008 18 %
2007 19 %
2006 19 %
2005 22 %
2004 26 %
2003 29 %

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 20 %


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
2020 96,852
2019 104,414
2018 99,842
2017 112,081
2016 114,890
2015 126,754
2014 135,569

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 96,852


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
2020 78,162
2019 99,640
2018 105,772
2017 115,723
2016 123,250
2015 130,805
2014 129,047

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 78,162


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
2020 57,047
2019 38,291
2018 33,310
2017 39,296
2016 43,005
2015 51,164
2014 55,456

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 57,047


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
2020 10,610
2019 24,276
2018 29,583
2017 34,579
2016 37,340
2015 39,036
2014 35,971

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 10,610


Crown courts effective trials

Effective trials as a percentage of total trials.

Crown courts effective trials
Year Crown courts effective trials
2020 51 %
2019 50 %
2018 51 %
2017 51 %
2016 51 %
2015 50 %
2014 50 %

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 51 %


Crown courts cracked trials

Cracked trials as a percentage of total trials.

Crown courts cracked trials
Year Crown courts cracked trials
2020 28 %
2019 34 %
2018 35 %
2017 34 %
2016 34 %
2015 35 %
2014 35 %

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 28 %


Crown courts ineffective trials

Ineffective trials as a percentage of total trials.

Crown courts ineffective trials
Year Crown courts ineffective trials
2020 21 %
2019 16 %
2018 14 %
2017 15 %
2016 15 %
2015 15 %
2014 15 %

Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 21 %