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Increase in the number of defendants charged with violence and sexual offences missing court hearings

Warrants issued for defendants in sexual offence cases has risen

Defendants in London charged with violence and sexual offences are increasingly likely to miss their day in court, the latest figures reveal.

Crown courts in the region issued 56 warrants in 2016 as a result of defendants in sexual offences cases failing to appear, up from 37 in 2015 and 25 in 2014.

The number of warrants issued in cases of violence against the person was up from 113 in 2015 to 132 in 2016.

However overall, 822 warrants were issued by crown courts in London in 2016, which is a decrease of 3% from 847 in 2015.

In the region, crown courts received 15,487 cases in 2016, based on this, one warrant was issued for every 19 cases on average.

The Old Bailey

Defendants in public order cases were the most likely to fail to turn up, with one warrant issued for every 11 cases received, followed by theft cases with one in 12.

In violence against the person cases, a warrant was issued for every 22 cases received, and it was one in 27 for sexual offences.

In magistrates courts, warrants were issued in 13,872 cases in 2016, up 3% from 13,537 in 2015.

With 1.2m defendants in 2016, this equated to around one warrant for every 86 defendants.

Across England and Wales, crown courts issued 296 warrants for defendants who failed to appear in sexual offences cases, up by 29% from 230 in 2015, and up from 196 in 2014.

Crown courts in England and Wales received 9,316 sexual offences cases in 2016, based on this one warrant was issued for every 31 cases on average.

Overall, there were also 3,701 warrants issued by crown courts in 2016, which was down from 4,049 in 2015, according to figures from Case Management Systems supplied by the Ministry of Justice following a Freedom of Information request.

This works out as one warrant for every 20 cases received by crown courts in 2016.

The Ministry of Justice said, in crown court, unless there are particular mitigating circumstances, a warrant will almost always be issued following non-appearance of the defendant.

Magistrates courts issued warrants in 87,854 cases in 2016 as a result of defendants failing to turn up for a court hearing.

This was up by 3% from 85,236 issued in 2015, and from 84,890 in 2014.

With 7.2m defendants in magistrates courts in 2016, the number of warrants issued works out as around one for every 82 defendants.

Not all defendants are required to attend hearings in magistrates courts as they are entitled to plead in absence for summary matters such as speeding and television licensing.

However, where a defendant is required to appear at a magistrates’ court and does not, the court may decide to proceed in their absence to issue a warrant for arrest.

This will depend on issues such as the age of the defendant, the seriousness of the offence and the likelihood of imprisonment and or/a driving disqualification being imposed.

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