As with any question about what a public service costs its not so simple and rather depends on what you mean.
The cost of the Magistrates Court system can be broken down into four distinct cost areas: 1. Defence Solicitors 2. Court Building itself 3. CPS Prosecutors 4. Other Services (Police, Probation and Prison Services)
The first one is easy to figure out but the others are not straight forward. But a quick back of a fag packet calculation would look like this:
In 2017/18 the Legal Aid bill for the Magistrates Court was £124m and they dealt with 299,000 cases. So the Legal Aid cost was £417 per case.
The courts are open roughly every day except Sunday. Thats about 313 days per year. So they deal with about 954 cases per day.
There were 192 courts in 2017/18. Although 15 were closed that year. The cost per court per day was £2,072.
But its still yet a bit more complex. The Magistrates actualy dealt with 1.2 million cases. Solicitors made only 300,000 claims which includes duty days at court where they deal with multiple matters.
So its perhaps more accurate to say that the cost per case was only £82 and the cost per court per day is only £410
The Magistrates are working for free but there are staff to pay along with heat, light, pensions, VAT building maintenance and all the rest….
There were 4,825 members of staff but that is all courts not just magistrates. The total cost of the courts or the total spent by HMCTS is around £1.1bn.
It looks like the Magistrates Courts cover about 90% of the work but only spend 17% of the money. The Higher Courts dealt with about 114,000 cases and had a Legal Aid spend of half a billion. Its reasonable (maybe even accurate) to assume that proportion holds true for HMCTS spending. After all a magistrate is free but a Crown Court judge is very well paid. The Magistrates are down and dirty but the Crown Courts are rather palatial by comparison and well staffed.
So, the running costs of the Magistrates Courts is about £189m giving a cost per day per court of £3,148. Each court costs about a miilion quid a year.
No Data yet…
No Data yet…
So the back of the fag box says our Magistrates Courts cost roughly £3,500 per day per court. But that is still missing some other costs. We have not factored in the CPS or Probation or Police Liason or the Prison Services.