County prosecutions top national average

Crown Court: Northampton ; crown court sign 'Friday 16th July 2012

Crown Court: Northampton ; crown court sign 'Friday 16th July 2012

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Criminals facing charges at the county’s crown court are more likely to be convicted than at most courts in the country.

New figures show that in 2011-12, about 84 per cent of cases at Northampton Crown Court ended up in successful convictions for offenders, with 993 people sentenced compared to the national average of 80.9 per cent.

Rape prosecution rates by the county’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are the sixth highest in the whole country, with a conviction rate of 68 per cent last year.

Judith Walker, chief crown prosecutor for CPS East Midlands, said: “The CPS in Northamptonshire has a good working relationship with our criminal justice partners and a strong team ethos. In the crown court we focus on sound legal decision-making, caring for victims and witnesses and effective case management.

“We are pleased to see that performance in relation to rape cases has been improving.

“These are often difficult cases. We have specialist lawyers who work closely with the police on these cases, drawing on each other’s experience to ensure that victims are given the best possible support.”

Conviction rates in the county’s magistrates’ courts are 78.4 per cent – just 0.2 per cent higher than the national average.

The CPS says it is working to increase this percentage.

Ms Walker added: “In the magistrates court, we deal with less serious cases, but far more of them. We are always looking at how we can make improvements and a key priority is currently the development of digital working, which will reduce our reliance on paper.”