The number of people receiving punishment for committing crimes in England and Wales has hit a new record low, despite a rise in the number of offences recorded by the police.
The statistics from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) show that the figure decreased by 2 per cent in the year to June, whilst the level of recorded crime increased by 6 per cent in the same period.
Around 1.58 million people were formally dealt with by the criminal justice system in England and Wales, the lowest total since records began. There were 1.37 million prosecutions and the remainder were handed out of court penalties such as fines and cautions.
The number of defendants prosecuted at magistrates’ courts continued its decline, falling by an additional 2 per cent this year, whilst the rate at which people were jailed fell by 6.5 per cent.
However, the average length of term increased to the highest level in ten years.
The latest figures follow warnings that the justice system will fall apart with crimes allowed to go unpunished if the Government cannot provide millions of pound in investment.
The Government has provided £85 million so far this year, but this is nowhere near the amount those from within the industry claim is needed.
A total of 127 courts have been closed since 2015 and 77 more are set for the axe, amid calls for urgent funding to maintain older buildings.
The days the remaining courts sit have been cut by around 15 per cent, leaving many courts empty despite a backlog in cases.
Unions claim there are not enough crown prosecutors to deal with current cases, and that the situation will worsen if the proposed 20,000 new police officers can solve more crimes.
These calls come even though the Crown Prosecution Service is currently attempting to recruit 390 crown prosecutors, as well as 40 specialist casework lawyers and additional posts.