Northern Ireland Crown Court conviction rate at record high

By Gary Adair

Conviction rates increased last year in both the Magistrates' Courts and the Crown Courts in Northern Ireland, with the rate in the latter reaching a record high.

The figures released by the Public Prosecution Service show that conviction rates in the Crown Courts increased from 81.6 per cent in 2015-16 to 86.4 per cent last year - their highest recorded level. The increase is thought to largely be down to the clearing of the backlog of cases that were put on hold during the legal aid dispute, which was settled last year. Nonetheless, Barra McGrory QC said the figures demonstrate "the effectiveness of the criminal justice system", especially set against "a challenging financial context" with a reduced budget and "around 20 per cent less staff than in 2015".

The Public Prosecution Service dealt with 43,946 files last year, and an increase was noticeable in motoring offences, criminal damage, sexual offences and fraud and forgery. The categories of offences that saw the biggest fall in cases were theft, public order offences, violence against the person, and drug offences.

The conviction rate in the Magistrates' Courts in Northern Ireland was 78.9 per cent last year, up marginally from 78.8 per cent in 2015-16.

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