The Ministry of Justice’s aim to reduce the Crown Court backlog of 67,573 to 53,000 by March 2025 cannot be achieved, according to a new report from the National Audit Office (NAO). The Bar Council contributed to the NAO’s report ‘Reducing the backlog in the Crown Court’ which examined the issues causing the delays.

Commenting on the new report, Bar Chair Sam Townend KC said: “This report again highlights how the criminal justice system is at the point of structural failure. 

“One issue identified in the report is the significant increase in the number of ineffective trials last year compared to 2019. One of the important reasons is the shortage of criminal barristers due to poor working conditions and insufficient pay.

“If the court backlog is to be tackled and the public are to regain confidence in the system there needs to be sufficient workforce to meet the demands. The next government needs to step up to the plate. It would cost the public purse peanuts in the scale of overall government spending to ensure every case has a barrister on each side. This investment would save considerably more than is spent because there would be far fewer ineffective trials.”