According to a legal business, in the last five years, the number of private prosecutions has more than quadrupled to a record high amid a decline in public trust in the police and Crown Prosecution Service.
Data reveals that from 114 in 2016–17 to 300 in 202–21, private prosecutions qualified for public financing.
According to legal firm Nockolds, the number is the highest on record, and the true statistics are probably far higher given that the majority of private prosecutions do not qualify for public financing. An individual who does not act on behalf of the police or a prosecuting agency like the CPS brings a private prosecution.
They are often only available to wealthy people who can afford to start such a costly business.
Partner at Nockolds Peter Dodd stated: “This is an access to justice problem. Although private prosecutions are sometimes cost-prohibitive, they may be a highly efficient way to get justice.
“We have seen a very considerable rise in private prosecutions,” he said, “as cutbacks to the funds of the police and the CPS, combined with a general reluctance to act in many situations, have left individuals with no alternative except to pursue charges at their own cost.”
These figures are probably only the tip of the iceberg since very few private prosecutions are eligible for public assistance. Private prosecutions are only available to wealthy individuals, leaving many others without the resources and without a legal redress.
“It is inevitable that people and companies would seek redress via the courts on their own initiative when they no longer have faith in the police and CPS to take on serious issues.
In essence, they are paying twice. Once via their taxes for the CPS and police, and once more privately when the government doesn’t perform its job.