Latest quarterly crime figures show Sheriff and Jury trials back to pre-COVID level

Jun 03, 2021

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service quarterly statistical bulletin is published today providing quarterly Official Statistics on criminal case activity in Scotland.

The bulletin contains figures on activity in all High, Sheriff, Justice of the Peace and criminal appeal courts with national trends as well as detailed figures for local courts in solemn and summary criminal business.

The 12th QCC Bulletin shows that despite the challenging conditions due to the pandemic and the lockdown during the early part of 2021, remote jury centres established across Scotland enabled 197 Sheriff Solemn evidence led trials to proceed in the latter part of 2020/21, a return to pre-pandemic throughput.

In the High Court, the number of evidence led trials continues to grow showing a 28% increase from 106 in 2020/21 Q3 to 136 this quarter.

In all criminal courts a total of 46,159 cases were concluded in 2020/21 – almost half the volume of those concluded in 2019/20.

This issue of the bulletin also contains – for the first time – a breakdown of domestic abuse court activity. 95% of domestic abuse court cases are heard at the Sheriff Summary Court, constituting 25% of the all summary complaints registered in the Sheriff Court in 2020/21. Domestic abuse cases at the Sheriff Summary Court accounted for 34% of trials called and 43% of evidence led trials in 2020/21 demonstrating the priority afforded to these cases.

Other highlights include:

  • The number of trials scheduled has risen 106% to 37,801 trials when scheduled trials at the end of March 2020 are compared to those still to call as at the end of March 2021. This is mostly attributable to Sheriff Summary business which had to be postponed during lockdowns;
  • Of all criminal appeals registered in 2020/21, 13% relate to appeal solely against conviction, 73% to appeal solely against sentence and 14% to a joint appeal against conviction and sentence;
  • Appeals against sentence continue to be the appeal type most likely to be sustained which account for 84% of all sustained appeals in 2020/21.

Commenting on the bulletin SCTS Executive Director Court Operations, David Fraser, said: “Our court buildings continue to operate in accordance with guidance from Public Health Scotland to safeguard our staff, judiciary and court users.

“When lockdown restrictions were in place, the criminal courts focussed on the most serious trials, with the majority of summary trials in the Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court being adjourned. The High Court continues to operate at pre-COVID levels and with the roll-out of remote jury centres now complete we can see Sheriff Courts making strong progress.

“The excellent collaboration across the judiciary, justice organisations, the legal profession and the third sector has helped get court business back on track and this will remain crucial in planning for the recovery programme commencing in September.

“I am also pleased to be able to include in this bulletin, the new information on domestic abuse court activity which will be of wide public interest and further demonstrates our commitment to openness and transparency around data.”







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