PPS publishes 2022-2023 Statistical Bulletin

Publication date:

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) today published its Statistical Bulletin 2022/23, which presents key statistics on the activity of the PPS including files received, caseloads and prosecutorial decisions. It also covers decision types, including reasons for no prosecution, and the outcomes of prosecutions at court.

The statistics relate to the 2022/23 financial year (i.e., 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023) and includes comparisons with the 2021/22 financial year.

Key findings

During 2022/23:

  • The PPS received a total of 44,687 files, an increase of 11.3% on 2021/22 (40,168). Of these 44,687 files, 44,130 were received from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).


  • The majority of files received from police were within two offence classifications: 30.9% related to ‘motoring offences’ (13,648) and 30.4% related to ‘violence against the person’ (13,413). The classification ‘public order’ saw the biggest decrease with a fall of 9.0% on the previous year. There was an also increase of 22.1% in files relating to sexual offences (1,709 in 2022/23).


  • In addition to the files received from the PSNI, 557 files were submitted to the PPS by government departments and agencies. Of these, 33.6% were received from the Driver and Vehicle Agency and 18.5% from the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.


  • A total of 49,367 prosecutorial decisions were issued by the PPS. The Test for Prosecution was met for 67.3% of cases which included 30,193 decisions for prosecution and 3,046 for diversion from the courts.


  • Of the 16,128 decisions for no prosecution, the vast majority (97.2%) did not pass the evidential test. The remaining 2.8% did not pass the public interest test.


  • Median calendar days required for the issue of an indictable prosecution decision (prosecution in the Crown Court) decreased during the current period to 193 days, down from 209 days during 2021/22. Summary prosecutions decisions (prosecution in the Magistrates’ or Youth Court) required a median of 6 days, which is higher than the previous financial year (4 days).


  • There were 1,759 defendants dealt with in the Crown Court. This was an increase of 9.4% on the previous financial year (1,608). The overall conviction rate in the Crown Court was 86.6% compared with 87.7% in 2021/22.


  • A total of 30,352 defendants were dealt with in the Magistrates’ and Youth Courts, an increase of 5.6% on 2021/22 (28,740). The conviction rate in the Magistrates’ and Youth Courts was 78.8%, similar to 2021/22 (79.9%).


The Director of Public Prosecutions, Stephen Herron, welcomed the detailed analysis of caseloads and outcomes provided by the annual Bulletin.


“This Bulletin assists us in analysing our performance and helps with forward planning so we can continue to maintain the high quality of our decision making and our services to victims and witnesses. We welcome scrutiny of our work in the interests of public confidence, and this publication underlines our commitment to openness and transparency. The Bulletin relates to the post Covid recovery period which continues to be challenging as the system deals with the backlogs that have inevitably built up. It reflects the day to day work our teams undertake along with our criminal justice partners to continue to try and reduce unavoidable delay.

“As expected, the recovery period led to an 11.3% increase on the number of investigation files received (44,687). A substantial proportion of these files (30.4%) related to violence against the person. Very often these cases involve trauma to victims. The trauma suffered by many victims of crime is at the forefront of our minds, and the PPS is committed under the Victim Charter to ensuring they are kept updated at key points, treated with respect and empathy and signposted to specialist support agencies.

“Tackling avoidable delay is one of the biggest challenges across the criminal justice system, and we continue to work with partners on cross cutting initiatives to reduce it. We recognise the impact delay has on victims and witnesses, as well as defendants and the interests of justice.

“It is therefore encouraging to see the time taken for issuing an indictable prosecution decision has decreased (193 days) compared with last year (209 days). We recognise there is much more to be done but the reduction in the time taken for an indictable decision to issue is significant when set against the demands of dealing with the more serious and complex casework we are seeing. This includes the increase of 22.1% in sexual offences files (1,709) and the exponential rise in digital material which places more demands on police and prosecutors. This steady improvement is due to the high-quality and dedicated work of our staff and our criminal justice partners.

“It is positive for the recovery of the criminal justice system that more defendants are being dealt with in the courts. There was an increase of almost 10% of cases being dealt with in the Crown Court (1,759 defendants, compared with 1,608 in 2021/22) and an increase of almost 6% in the Magistrates Court (30,352 defendants, compared with 28,740 in 2021/22). With conviction rates remaining high in both the Magistrates’ Court (78.8% compared with 79.9% in 2021/22) and Crown Court (86.6% compared with 87.7% in 2021/22), we hope this provides reassurance to the public and will continue to build confidence in the criminal justice system.”

Mr Herron added: “Over the next year, PPS staff will continue to provide a high quality, impartial and independent prosecution service to the people of Northern Ireland. We will continue to seek sufficient resources to modernise and improve our services. We will also work collaboratively with our criminal justice partners including the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the judiciary, the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service and the Department of Justice towards reducing unavoidable delay as well as maintaining the quality of our decision making.”

Further information

This summary should be read in conjunction with the explanatory notes and user information provided (see pages 13 - 19 of the Statistical Bulletin).

These are ‘Official Statistics’ as defined in Section 6 of the Statistics and Registration Services Act 2007. Statisticians from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency are seconded to the PPS and are responsible for ensuring that the statistics produced comply with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

The information presented in this bulletin is derived from the Case Management System, the main operational system within the PPS. This is a ‘live’ system with data being input on a daily basis.

The full bulletin may be viewed or downloaded here: https://www.ppsni.gov.uk/pps-statistical-bulletin. Any member of the public may comment on the report by contacting PPS as follows:


Policy and Information Unit

Public Prosecution Service

Belfast Chambers

93 Chichester Street

Belfast BT1 3JR

Tel: 02890 897100

Deaf / hard of hearing (SMS):             07795 675528

Email: info@ppsni.gov.uk

Website: www.ppsni.gov.uk


Media Enquiries - please contact PPS Communications on ppspressoffice@ppsni.gov.uk inside office hours. The out of hours press officer can be contacted on 07920 271 804, 07920 418844 or 07341 800254.