19 Jan 2016

Growing number of trials collapse as witnesses don’t turn up

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Another alarm has gone off in the criminal justice system.

There’s a worrying rise in the number of witnesses who are simply failing to turn up to trial.

The Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate reports last year, 2014/15, saw a rise in trials collapsing because of a witness not turning up or withdrawing evidence.

When crunching the figures, the picture is alarming.

In the Crown Court less than 50% of trials ran their course and of those that were “ineffective”¬†over 10% were due to prosecution reasons, roughly half being witness non-attendance or withdrawal. That amounts to close to a thousand trials.

And in the Magistrates Court, the reports notes, the situation is just as bad.

The CPS Chief Inspector Kevin McGinty said: “Fewer and fewer witnesses are attending court.”

He points out this is happening even though the Crown Prosecution Service is issuing more and more witness summonses and too often to vulnerable victims like in domestic violence cases.

In response the CPS said: “The CPS and police are conducting a joint review of the provision of support to victims and witnesses. This review, which aims to improve levels of service, will be an opportunity to explore the reasons for the drop in witness attendance.

This is just a symptom of a wider picture.

I’m drawn to the above report because of the increasing shambles that appears to be going on daily in trials all over the country.

This link gives a picture of the criminal justice system as a crumbling edifice and not enough from within are raising the alarm.