Publication - Statistics

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Justice Analytical Services Data Report - April 2021

Monthly data report on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the justice system in Scotland, including information from Police Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, and Scottish Prison Service.

35 page PDF

911.8 kB

35 page PDF

911.8 kB

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Justice Analytical Services Data Report - April 2021
Scottish Courts & Tribunal Service (SCTS)

35 page PDF

911.8 kB

Scottish Courts & Tribunal Service (SCTS)

SCTS update

Sheriff Court Summary business increased on 19th April following a period of business restrictions due to lockdown in early 2021.

Criminal Registered & Scheduled Trials

Since the initial lockdown in March 2020, there have been 84,165 criminal registrations in the courts. 451 of these registrations have been COVID-19 related (0.5%).

In April 2021, all types of court registration remained lower than 2019-20 averages, although sheriff court registrations appear to be returning to pre-pandemic levels:

  • Indictments registered in the High Court were 35% lower than the 19-20 average.
  • Indictments registered in the Sheriff court (solemn cases) were 3% lower than the 19-20 average.
  • Complaints (summary cases) registered in the Sheriff Court were 8% lower than the 19-20 average.
  • Complaints registered in the JP court were 29% lower than the 19-20 average.
Cases Registered 19-20 monthly average April 2021 Change from 19-20 monthly average Outstanding trials March 2020 Outstanding trials April 2021
Indictments
High Court 85 55 -30 (-35%) 390 292
Sheriff Court 454 441 -13 (-3%) 497 1,398
Complaints
Sheriff Court 5,478 5,017 -461 (-8%) 13,971 31,799
JP Court 2,799 1,992 -807 (-29%) 3,497 5,999

At the end of April 2021 there were 39,488trials outstanding. This compares to 18,355 at the end of 2019-20. In addition, SCTS have forecast that there are another 8,322 cases in the system which are likely to come to trial but have not yet had a trial date set (see SCTS published monthly criminal statistics for a more detail - https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/official-statistics).

Criminal Disposals

In April 2021 there were 3,903 disposals (excluding secondary disposals and the 'other' disposal category) from Scotland's courts. This is 54% of the 19-20 monthly average of 7,278 and 7% lower than March 2021.

Between April 2020 and April 2021 there were 42,163 (45%) fewer disposals than would have been expected based on 19-20 average figures. Over this time period, there have been 36% fewer custodial sentences and 48% fewer community disposals imposed by the courts than might have been expected.

To: 30 April 2021 Monthly average 2019-20 April 2021 Change % Estimated* April 2020 – April 2021 Actual April 2020 – April 2021 Change %
Imprisonment 1,011 707 -30% 13,142 8,357 -36%
Community Disposal (CPO & DTTO) 1,384 821 -41% 17,989 9,367 -48%
Restriction of Liberty Order 296 261 -12% 3,852 3,035 -21%
Fine etc. 3,106 1,238 -60% 40,374 19,256 -52%
Admonished/ Discharged 1,481 876 -41% 19,256 12,435 -35%

* based on 19-20 monthly average disposals

Disposals from court at any point in time are related both to the volume of business coming into courts and the length of time it takes that business to proceed through the court system. Therefore, changes in crime levels or the abilty of courts to function in the usual way may have associated impacts on disposals.

Further Information: Latest SCTS published official statistics can be found here:https://scotcourts.gov.uk/official-statistics

Sheriff Court Civil Case Volumes

Case initiations and disposals

Initiations and Disposals (of all types) in the Sheriff Civil Courts remain low, but are recovering to 2019-20 typical levels (dotted lines) as the courts continue to emerge from lockdown. There was a decrease in both initiations and disposals in April.

Chart: Initiations and disposals
Line graph showing case volumes remain low, but are recovering to 2019-20 typical levels.

Sheriff Court initiated and disposed cases by procedure

Initiated case numbers for ordinary cause and simple procedure are returning to 2019-20 monthly average levels. However, in line with overall decrease in initiated cases in April, they have decreased in parallel. Summary cause is much lower than 2019-20 levels, and it also decreased from the previous month. Small claims have largely been replaced by simple procedure.

Likewise, disposed cases for ordinary cause and simple procedure are returning to 2019-20 levels. Similar to overall disposals in April, disposals for both case types were lower than they were in March. Summary cause disposals are returning to 2019-20 monthly average levels, and have increased in the last two months.

In addition to lower volumes across all procedures, summary cause figures were heavily influenced by the emergency legislation which protects tenants during the pandemic, brought into force in April 2020 as part of Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. The provisions of the Act expired on 30 March 2021.

Procedures Dec-20 Jan-21 Feb-21 Mar-21 Apr-21 2019/20 monthly average
Initiated
Ordinary cause 1,512 1,304 1,577 2,161 1,676 1,928
Summary cause 186 173 209 228 181 1,132
Small claim 4 0 0 1 0 2
Simple procedure 1,668 1,819 2,181 1,823 1,369 2,695
Total initiated 3,370 3,296 3,967 4,213 3,226 5,758
Disposed
Ordinary cause 1,367 1,003 1,047 1,428 1,254 1,445
Summary cause 562 411 284 644 724 1,096
Small claim 4 1 2 4 0 5
Simple procedure 2,140 2,364 1,754 2,148 2,000 2,306
Total disposed 4,073 3,779 3,087 4,224 3,978 4,852

1. Figures exclude summary applications.
2. Figures for initiations and disposals do not necessarily refer to the same cases.
3. Excludes Sheriff Personal Injury Court.

Case types

In April 2021, total initiated and disposed cases were below 2019-20 levels.

  • Initiated case types presented are gradually returning to 2019-20 levels, with month to month variation. All initiated case types were lower than they were in the previous month.
  • There was an overall decrease in disposals from the previous month, with all case types, but children's referrals showing a decrease.
Initiated Cases (Apr 21) Disposed Cases (Apr 21)
April 2021 Change from 19-20 Case Type April 2021 Change from 19-20
991 94% of 19-20 average month (1,055 cases)
Family
804 88% of 19-20 average month (910 cases)
358 60% of 19-20 average month (602 cases) Children's Referrals 150 58% of 19-20 average month (260 cases)
1,678 58% of 19-20 average month (2,883 cases) Debt 2,184 92% of 19-20 average month (2,368 cases)
225 56% of 19-20 average month (402 cases) Personal Injury 172 56% of 19-20 average month (306 cases)

Further Information:

Latest published Civil Justice Statistics can be found here:
https://www.gov.scot/publications/civil-justice-statistics-scotland-2019-20/


Contact

Email: Justice_Analysts@gov.scot