Quarterly criminal courts statistics published in Scotland for the first time

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) has announced plans to publish a new statistical bulletin providing quarterly data on criminal case activity in the Scottish courts for the first time.

The first Quarterly Criminal Court Statistics bulletin, covering the first quarter of 2018, is now available from the SCTS website.

The new series will cover activity in all High, Sheriff and Justice of the Peace courts giving national trends as well as detailed figures for local courts in solemn and summary criminal business. The bulletin includes such figures as the national total of trials called; the total of trials where evidence was led; and the total of trials concluded.

Information on summary and solemn business is available for each court individually with access to useful graphs and tables in addition to the figures themselves.

This initiative is intended to be of use to anyone with an interest in the flow of activity through Scotland’s courts and is expected to be of particular interest to legal practitioners and researchers. It marks a further move by the SCTS in promoting availability of court statistics following the introduction of the Quarterly Fines Report.

David Fraser, SCTS chief operations officer, said: “I am delighted that we can now provide this information which shows the trends in criminal cases over the last four years.

“The number of indictments registered in the High Court increased over the past year with the number of cases proceeding to trial remaining high and it is expected that this trend will continue with further rises in the number of High Court trials. The complexity and length of trials being heard has also been increasing in recent years, with a greater proportion of cases relating to sexual offending and domestic abuse proceeding to trial.

“Reforms introduced to sheriff court solemn business by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 have improved the efficiency of case management at the sheriff and jury level and further reforms are being considered at summary level. Summary business levels in both the sheriff and justice of the peace courts have shown a decline from the unprecedented high volume of business experienced in 2014-15.”

Welcoming the announcement, Andrew Alexander, head of policy at the Law Society of Scotland, said: “I think it’s a very helpful publication and a commendable commitment to open data. With the number of criminal cases changing locally and nationally, I think that this will be a very helpful resource to practitioners, allowing for better prediction and planning.”