Understanding the nature, extent and outcomes of serious and organised crime cases heard before the Crown Courts in England and Wales (2013-2019)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Hertfordshire
Department Name: School of Life and Medical Sciences

Abstract

The costs associated with serious and organised crime (SOC) to the UK are considerable. This study will use defendant-level records relating to cases heard before the Crown Court in England and Wales to assess the rate and frequency of SOC between 2013 and 2019, and their associated outcomes. Using a comparative design, the study will assess: levels of cumulative harm generated by SOC and non-SOC cases; the extent to which cases are discontinued or dismissed (and factors most predictive of this outcome); the rate and frequency of repeat appearances at magistrates and/or Crown Court (using a linked dataset to determine this); and, whether this repeat use is associated with increased offending-related harms and harsher sentencing outcomes.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This unique project drew on over 12.6 million linked records from the criminal courts and prison system over an eight-year period (2013-2020) to examine the extent, nature and outcomes of SOC-related appearances and cases heard before the Crown Court in England and Wales. The main findings from the study include the following insights:

• Few Crown Court appearances (6%) and cases (3%) in England and Wales between January 2013 and December 2020 met the criteria for SOC.

• Most Crown Court appearances (90%) and those considered to be SOC in nature (83%) involved a male defendant.

• The average age of SOC and other defendants was 32 years.

• 68% of defendants deemed to be involved in SOC self-identified as White.

• Most (77%) cases considered to be SOC-related comprised only one ethnic group.

• There were significant differences in the offence profiles of SOC-related appearances and others - notably an over-representation of drug offences (57% vs. 15%).

• On average, SOC appearances generated higher levels of crime-related severity or 'harm' (measured using ONS Crime Severity Scores) and these were experienced differently across the regions of England and Wales.

• At a local authority level, SOC-related appearances were concentrated in the North-West and Midlands.

• Compared to other Crown Court appearances, SOC was linked to more affluent areas.

• SOC appearances were more likely to involve a guilty plea (65% vs. 47%), result in a conviction (79% vs. 56%), and their trials were, on average, longer in length (121 days vs. 10 days).

• Those SOC appearances heard before a jury were more likely to result in a discontinuation, dismissal, or acquittal (46% vs. 23%).

• Fewer SOC defendants reappeared at court for further charges or offences within two years (28% vs. 38%).

• SOC defendants took longer, on average, to reappear before the courts (342 days vs. 273), their charges were more likely to have reduced in severity (88% vs. 78%), they had fewer reappearances overall during the two-year follow-up period (1 vs. 2), and they were less likely to have been recalled to custody (2% vs. 8%).
Exploitation Route The outcomes of the project will be taken forwarded and used by others through a series of targeted dissemination activities aimed at enhancing policy impact, including:

• Creating a bespoke Twitter poster - an animated slideshow containing three to five slides outlining the study's key findings in around 15 seconds - suitable for dissemination via various University of Hertfordshire (and other) social media platforms.
• Scoping the costs and feasibility of producing a three-minute, bespoke animation, to help a broad audience understand more about the findings from the project e.g., such as the assets produced by Science Animated.
• Proposing and submitting a POSTnote or POSTbrief overviewing SOC as a policy issue and findings from the project.
• Submitting an external blog contribution for publication (e.g. to The Conversation, Institute for Government, or Open Innovation Team).
• Submitting evidence to at least one relevant Select Committee call focused on the findings from the project.
• Sharing and offering to present findings from the research to relevant Parliamentarians, practitioners and policy stakeholders (i.e., the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Policing and Security, the National Police Chiefs' Council, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, the Serious Organised Crime Research and Analysis team at the Home Office).
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy,Other

URL https://www.adruk.org/our-work/browse-all-projects/adr-uk-research-fellows-the-first-users-of-the-data-first-magistrates-and-crown-court-datasets-422/
 
Description Additional activities/analyses were identified which align with a number of priority themes and issues highlighted through engagement with different stakeholders as part of the UKRI funded project with a view to enhancing the policy impact and public good generated by the research. This includes generating more detailed understanding linked to offence-specific profiles of different serious and organised groups (e.g., relating to drugs, violence, theft, vehicle crime, fraud, money laundering, cybercrime, and sexual offences), as suggested by the Serious Organised Crime Research and Analysis (SOCRA) team at the Home Office and representatives from the National Police Chiefs' Council. There has also been a sharper focus on exploring public health-orientated impacts arising from serious and organised crime (e.g., the extent to which this type of offending disproportionately impacts on areas of deprivation) and introducing mapping visualisations using ArcGIS to illustrate the distribution and concentration of serious and organised crime across England and Wales over time (as proposed by the College of Policing) .
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description A national data linkage study to assess the extent, nature and outcomes of serious and organised crime cases prosecuted before the Crown Court in England and Wales (2013-2020). 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation to the 4th Annual PSG conference, University of Hertfordshire, 17th January.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description ADR UK News & Blog item: 'What do we know about serious and organised crime and how effective is our response to it? Generating new insights using criminal courts data' (26/07/21). 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This blog - details of which were circulated via various ADR UK media platforms - described how the funded research project was using de-identified, research-ready data made available through the Data First programme to examine the nature, extent and outcomes of serious and organised crime cases heard before the criminal courts in England and Wales between 2013 and 2020. It set out the aims of the project and the potential impact of the work
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.adruk.org/news-publications/news-blogs/what-do-we-know-about-serious-and-organised-crime...
 
Description ADR UK Research Fellowships: Public Policy Stakeholder Engagement Event, ADR UK/Ministry of Justice, UK, 26 July 2021. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Aims and objectives of the project were presented to and discussed with a range of relevant stakeholders at an event organised by ADR UK and the Ministry of Justice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description British Society of Criminology Annual Conference, Open University, UK, 7 July 2021. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Aims and objectives of the project, funded via an ESRC/UKRI Data First Research Fellowship, were presented as an invited speaker to the Crime & Justice Statistics Network Panel.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Data First Academic Quarterly Seminar Series, ADR UK/Ministry of Justice, UK, 21 October 2021. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Emerging findings from the study were presented and discussed as part of the Data First Academic Quarterly Seminar Series, hosted by ADR UK and the Ministry of Justice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Data First Research Symposium. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation to the Data First Research Symposium, Friends House, London, UK, 24 November.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.research.herts.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/35231046/Data_First_Symposium.pdf
 
Description Ministry of Justice Areas of Research Interest (ARI) seminar: Data First. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Online seminar hosted 20 October.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Office for National Statistics (ONS) Research Excellence Series - ADR UK Research Fellows: Insights from criminal justice data. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation as part of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Research Excellence Series.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.research.herts.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/35124323/ONS_seminar_slides.pdf
 
Description Understanding the nature, extent and outcomes of serious and organised crime cases heard before the Crown Courts in England and Wales (2013-2020). 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation at an ADR UK and Ministry of Justice Data First Magistrates' & Crown Court Fellowship Showcase Event, Institute of Directors, London, UK, 22 July.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Unlocking criminal justice data: Findings from Data First. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation to the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research, Edinburgh, UK, 13 October.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description What do we know about serious and organised crime and how effective is the response to it? Emerging findings from a study using linked criminal courts and prisons data for England and Wales (2013-2020). 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation to the British Society of Criminology Annual Conference, University of Surrey, UK, 30 June.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022