Crown Prosecution Service lawyers are now handling on average around 27 such cases, as opposed to 15 before the outbreak, the Commons Justice Committee was told. Chief executive Rebecca Lawrence said CPS staff had been operating for nine months with a “hyper-inflated” caseload, which was 63 percent higher than in February last year.
In magistrates’ courts, lawyers have 20 percent more cases per brief – on average about 101 – while the crown court increase is 27 percent.
She told MPs: “Our rape and serious sexual offences lawyers, so much in our thoughts at the moment and in the public’s mind, have on average 80 percent more cases per lawyer than they did at the start of the pandemic. And strain on that particular group of prosecutors, as you know, pre-dates the pandemic.”
She said there is a “real pressure” on staff, adding: “When prosecutors hold more cases, and when cases are waiting longer to be heard in the courts, there’s more strain on them, and on the defence, and on witnesses and all involved.”
Ms Lawrence’s comments come after the CPS watchdog warned the caseload was increasing at an “alarming rate” and could have “major consequences” for victims and witnesses and called for “sustainable” solutions.
● Stalking offences hit a record high in England and Wales last year, according to Home Office figures. The number of incidents recorded by police in the six months between April and September 2020 is already 39 percent higher than during the entire previous year.