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Trials: Young Offenders

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN HL14701, tabled on 12 April 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people aged 17 are awaiting trial in England and Wales.

Answered on

26 April 2021

As at 31 December 2020, there were 18 outstanding cases in the Crown Court where the defendant was aged 17, had entered a not-guilty plea to one or more counts and for whom a trial date had been set. There were 38 outstanding cases in the Crown Court where the defendant was aged 17 at the time of the earliest offence on the case, and on 31 December 2020, the defendant was aged 18 or more, had entered a not-guilty plea to one or more counts and for whom a trial date had been set.1 To provide this data for Magistrates Courts would require examination of individual file records and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

HMCTS prioritises and regularly reviews youth cases to clear outstanding cases and reduce the number of children awaiting trial. In 2020 outstanding youth cases at the magistrates' court reached an annual peak of 12,138 in June, then consistently fell to 9,930 cases by December. In the same period, outstanding youth cases at the Crown Court remained stable, peaking at 665 in October then falling to 629 by December. HMCTS prioritises cases where there is a possibility that the defendant may turn 18 before conviction. The judiciary has re-published a note about listing in magistrates’ courts highlighting the impact on the remand status of youth defendants and the need to list cases expeditiously where a child is about to turn 18.

1. Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that the data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when data are used.