Information

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Justice Analytical Services Data Report - November 2020

Sixth release of a 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.

This document is part of a collection


Scottish Courts & Tribunal Service

(SCTS)

Criminal Registered & Scheduled Trials

Since lockdown, there have been 52,074 criminal registrations in the courts. 224 of these registrations have been COVID-19 related (0.4%).

In November 2020, all types of court registration were lower than 2019-20 averages:

  • The number of indictments registered in the High Court is 62% lower than 19-20 average levels.
  • The number of indictments registered in the Sheriff court (solemn cases) is 9% lower than the 19-20 average.
  • The number of complaints (summary cases) registered in the Sheriff Court is 20% lower than the 19-20 average.
  • Complaints registered in the JP court are 56% lower than the 19-20 average.
Cases Registered 19-20 monthly average November
2020
Change from 19-20 monthly average Outstanding (scheduled) trials
Pre- lockdown November 2020
Indictments High Court 85 32

-63 (-62%)

390 291
Sheriff Court 454 414

-40 (-9%)

497 738
Complaints Sheriff Court 5,478 4,383

-1,095 (-20%)

13,971 27,372
JP Court 2,799 1,221

-1,578 (-56%)

3,497 5,189

At the end of November there were 33,590 trials outstanding. This compares to 18,355 at the end of 2019-20. In addition, SCTS have forecast that there are another 5,271 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 November 2020 there were 6,077 disposals (excluding secondary disposals and the ‘other’ disposal category) from Scotland’s courts. This is 83% of the 19-20 monthly average of 7,278 and 8% lower than October 2020.

However, as a result of lockdown, between April and November 2020 there were 27,872 (47%) fewer disposals compared to the same time the previous year.

If courts had not been subject to lockdown and crime levels had remained the same we could have expected the number of April to November 2020 court disposals to be similar to April to November 2019 levels.

From April to November of 2020, there have been 44% fewer custodial sentences and 57% fewer community disposals imposed by the courts than might have been expected under normal circumstances.

To:
30 November 2020
Monthly average 2019-20 Nov
2020
Change
%
Apr-Nov 2019 Apr-Nov 2020 Change
%
Imprisonment 1,011 746

-26%

8,255 4,658

-44%

Community Disposal (CPO & DTTO) 1,384 1,185

-14%

11,371 4,859

-57%

Restriction of Liberty Order 296 354 +19% 2,367 1,417

-40%

Fine etc. 3,106 2,425

-22%

25,179 12,604

-50%

Admonished/ Discharged 1,481 1,367

-8%

11,932 7,694

-36%

Overall, the number of crimes recorded by the police between April and November 2020 was 6% lower than the same period in 2019. It will take time for these cases to move through the courts system and it is unlikely that many of these cases are included in the disposal figures above. Any changes in crime levels may have associated impacts on volumes of court business and 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 19-20 typical levels (dotted lines) as the courts continue to emerge from lockdown.

Line graph showing case volumes remain low, but gradually returning to normal levels as courts continue to emerge from lockdown.

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. Summary cause is lower than 2019-20 levels, while small claims have largely been replaced by simple procedure.

Likewise, disposed cases for ordinary cause and simple procedure are returning to 2019-20 levels, while summary cause are much lower. 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, although temporary in nature, have now been extended until 31 March 2021.

Procedures Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov 2019/20 monthly average
Initiated Ordinary cause 2,017 1,597 2,013 2,000 1,885 1,928
Summary cause 213 202 384 181 154 1,132
Small claim 5 0 3 1 2 2
Simple procedure 1,316 1,375 1,964 2,633 2,282 2,695
Total initiated 3,551 3,174 4,364 4,815 4,323 5,758
Disposed Ordinary cause 1,058 1,000 1,271 1,373 1,424 1,445
Summary cause 166 142 357 335 366 1,096
Small claim 5 2 13 4 2 5
Simple procedure 2,057 1,428 1,680 2,194 2,170 2,306
Total disposed 3,286 2,572 3,321 3,906 3,962 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 November 2020, most initiated and disposed cases were below 2019-20 levels.

  • All initiated case types presented are gradually returning to 2019-20 levels, with month to month variation. Family cases are higher than 2019-20 monthly average.
  • In November, for disposals, Family and Debt had returned to 2019-20 levels, but Children’s Referrals and Personal Injury were lower than 2019-20 average levels.
Initiated Cases (Nov 20) Case Type Disposed Cases (Nov 20)
November 2020 Change from 19-20 October 2020 Change from 19-20
1,176 112% of 19-20 average month
(1,055 cases)
Family 945 104% of 19-20 average month
(910 cases)
368 61% of 19-20 average month
(602 cases)
Children’s Referrals 173 67% of 19-20 average month
(260 cases)
2,594 90% of 19-20 average month
(2,883 cases)
Debt 2,366 100% of 19-20 average month
(2,368 cases)
261 65% of 19-20 average month
(402 cases)
Personal Injury 212 69% 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-2018-19/

Contact

Email: Justice_Analysts@gov.scot

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