This report presents the key trends in the 12 months from October 2011 to September 2012 of activity in the criminal justice system.
Earlier editions: Criminal Justice Statistics in England and Wales
This report presents the key trends from October 2011 to September 2012 for activity in the criminal justice system (CJS) for England and Wales.
Overview of the criminal justice system in 12 months ending September 2012
In the 12 months ending September 2012, there were 1.86 million individuals given an out of court disposal or proceeded against at court. This compares with 2.03 million individuals in the 12 months ending September 2011, a decline of 8.4 per cent.
This consisted of a 13.0 per cent fall in the use of out of court disposals (from 444,400 to 386,900) and a 7.1 per cent fall in the number of defendants proceeded against at court (from 1,583,400 to 1,471,300).
Out of court disposals
Since the 12 months ending September 2008, the use of out of court disposals has decreased by 38.0 per cent (from 624,400 to 386,900 in the 12 months ending September 2012). The decline in the use of out of court disposals coincided with the replacement in April 2008 of a target to increase offences brought to justice, with one placing more emphasis on bringing serious crime to justice. The latter target was subsequently removed in May 2010.
There were 205,700 cautions administered in the 12 months ending September 2012.
- This represents a 12.5 per cent decrease compared with the 12 months ending September 2011 (235,000) and a 44.0 per cent fall on the 367,300 administered in the 12 months ending September 2007, when the use of cautions peaked.
Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs)_
There were 109,600 PNDs issued in 12 months ending September 2012.
This was 15.8 per cent fewer than the 130,300 issued in the same period of the previous year and 48.9 per cent fewer than the peak of 214,400 issued in 12 months ending September 2007, a downtrend trend similar to that observed with the use of cautions.
In the 12 months ending September 2012, there were 1.47 million defendants proceeded against in magistrates’ courts and 1.23 million offenders convicted and sentenced of a criminal offence at all courts.
Prosecutions and convictions peaked in the 12 months ending September 2004, and have since fallen by 28.6 per cent and 21.5 per cent respectively. These falls have largely been driven by declines in proceedings for summary non motoring and summary motoring offences.
For the more serious indictable offences, prosecutions have fallen by 26.5 per cent since September 2002. The number of convictions for indictable offences have remained broadly flat over the same period, resulting in a rise in the conviction ratio from 65.3 per cent in the 12 months ending September 2002 to 82.6 per in the 12 months ending September 2012 - the highest ratio in 11 years.
Of the 1.23 million offenders sentenced during the 12 months ending September 2012, there were 97,500 persons sentenced to immediate custody, a decrease of 4.7 per cent from 102,300 persons in the same period a year earlier and 12.6 per cent lower than the peak of 111,500 persons sentenced in the 12 months ending September 2002.
In the 12 months ending September 2012, the Average Custodial Sentence Length (ACSL) was 14.9 months, an increase of 0.6 months compared to the 12 months ending September 2011, and up from 2.5 months in the 12 months ending September 2002. The rise in ACSL has been driven by the change in the case mix of people getting custodial sentences and longer sentences for indictable offences.
Fines are the most common sentence passed at court, accounting for around two-thirds of all sentences handed out by the criminal courts (66.5 per cent in the 12 months ending September 2012). The fine rate is consistent with that seen in the same period for the previous year, and has declined from a peak of 70.3 per cent in the 12 months ending September 2004. The decline has been due to a decline in prosecutions and subsequent conviction for summary motoring offences - the offence type for which fines are most commonly given
The latest figure of 816,600 fines represents a decrease of 5. 2 per cent compared to the 12 months ending September 2011, and the lowest number of fines handed out over the last 11 years.
Suspended Sentences and Community Orders
In the 12 months ending September 2012, 153,900 people (or 12.5 per cent of those sentenced) were given a Community Sentence, a 14.0 per cent decrease compared with the 12 months ending September 2011.
In the 12 months ending September 2012, 44,400 people (or 3.6 per cent of those sentenced) were given a Suspended Sentence Order, an 8.8 per cent decrease compared with the same period for the previous year.
This section provides information on the breakdown of offences committed by new and repeat offenders, the trends in new entrants to the criminal justice system, and breakdowns of the criminal histories of cautioned and sentenced offenders.
There were 187,700 first time entrants (FTEs) to the criminal justice system as recorded on the PNC, a decrease of 12.8 per cent compared to the 12 months period ending September 2011, and 43.6 per cent when compared with the 12 months period ending September 2007.
The reduction in the number of first time entrants seen over the last five years has been much sharper for juveniles, down 71.5 per cent since the year ending September 2007, than for adults.
39.2 per cent of offenders sentenced for indictable offences with 15 or more previous convictions or cautions were sentenced to immediate custody while 19.9 per cent were given a community sentence. This compares to 25.6 per cent and 34.6 per cent respectively for those first time entrants sentenced.
The bulletin is produced and handled by the ministry’s analytical professionals and production staff. Pre-release access of up to 24 hours is granted to the following persons:
Ministry of Justice: Secretary of State for Justice; Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Criminal Justice; Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice Strategy; Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice; Permanent Secretary; two Special Advisers; Director General, Corporate Performance Group; Director, Sentencing and Rehabilitation; Director, Crime; Director, Analytical Services; Policy official, Criminal Law, Sentencing and Youth Policy; Policy official, Youth Sentencing; Policy official, Out of court disposals; Policy official, Cautions; Head of News; Senior Press Officer; two further press officers; six private secretaries.
Home Office: Home Secretary; Permanent Secretary; Director of Crime; two press officers; Chief Statistician.
The Judiciary: Lord Chief Justice; Senior Presiding Judge.