Defendants in Burton and South Derbyshire charged with possessing weapons or sexual offences are increasingly likely to miss their day in court, new figures have revealed.
Crown courts in the Midlands issued 63 warrants in 2016 as a result of defendants involved in sexual offences cases failing to appear. This was up from 46 in 2015 and 33 in 2014, according to figures from Case Management Systems supplied by the Ministry of Justice following a Freedom of Information request.
The number of warrants issued in cases of possession of weapons was up from 36 in 2015 to 50 in 2016.
Overall, 775 warrants were issued by crown courts in the Midlands in 2016, up one per cent from 765 in 2015. Warrants are issued by courts when a defendant fails to appear in court. Warrants allow police to make an arrest, search premises, or carry out some other action relating to the administration of justice.
Crown courts in the region dealt with a total of 13,182 cases in 2016, based on this, one warrant was issued for every 17 cases on average, the joint highest rate in England and Wales.
Defendants in public order cases were the most likely to fail to turn up, with one warrant issued for every eight cases received, followed by theft cases, one in 12 receipts.
In possession of weapons cases, a warrant was issued for every 13 cases received, and it was one in 29 for sexual offences.
In magistrates’ courts, warrants were issued in 16,924 cases in 2016, up 10 per cent from 115,336 in 2015. With 1.2 million defendants in 2016, this equated to around one warrant for every 74 defendants.
Across England and Wales, crown courts issued 296 warrants for defendants who failed to appear in sexual offences cases, up by 29 per cent 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.
This works out as one warrant for every 20 cases received by crown courts in 2016.
The Ministry of Justice said, in the crown court, unless there are particular mitigating circumstances, a warrant will almost always be issued following the 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 three per cent from 85,236 issued in 2015, and up from 84,890 in 2014.
With 7.2 million defendants in magistrates’ courts in 2016, the number of warrants issued works out at 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, TV Licensing, and Vehicle Excise Licence offences etc.
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.