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This project aims to explore the following research questions: 

  • How do the experiences and outcomes of defendants in the magistrates’ court and Crown Court differ by ethnicity? 
  • Do ethnic disparities persist after controlling for defendant, case and court characteristics? 
  • What are the main drivers of the ethnic gap in court outcomes, and how much of the gap is attributed to defendant, case and court factors? 

The methodology used in this study: 

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This project aims to explore the following research questions:

  • Are there differences between ethnic groups in:
    • the outcomes of cases (e.g. conviction/acquittal, severity of sentence) after controlling for other factors (e.g. age, offence type)?
    • the number of times individuals are prosecuted over a specified time period?
    • the proportion of convictions, compared to other outcomes such as acquittals, that a defendant receives in that time period?
    • the number of cases in which a defendant appears in the magistrates’ court prior to appearing in a Crown Court case?
  • Are differences between ethnic groups the same or different for men and women?
  • Are there differences between the magistrates’ and Crown Court in terms of outcomes for cases which can be tried in either court (triable either way), taking account of other factors such as offence type?
    • What is the effect of this if Black, Asian and minority ethnic defendants are more likely to elect to be tried in the Crown Court?

The methodology used in this study: 

Regression analysis enables the relationship between two variables to be assessed while controlling for other variables in the analysis.

Regression analysis will be used to establish whether:

  • differences between ethnic groups in court case outcomes (whether the defendant is convicted and if convicted the severity of the sentence) remain after taking account of things such as age and offence type;
  • there are differences between the magistrates’ or Crown Court in the outcome of cases, taking account of other information available in the datasets.

Some people will appear in the dataset on multiple occasions. Aggregate data will be produced for individuals collating: the number of times each individual is prosecuted over a specified time period; the proportion of prosecutions that result in convictions; and the number of cases in which a defendant appears in the magistrates’ court prior to appearing in a Crown Court case. 

Regression analysis will then be used to examine the relationship between these variables and ethnicity, taking account of other information in the dataset, such as the most serious offence over the time period.

In conducting the analyses, the interaction between gender and ethnicity will be examined to establish whether the findings are the same or different for men and women.

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This project aims to explore the following research questions:

  • What is the nature and extent of SOC heard before the Crown Courts in England and Wales?
  • How much cumulative harm do these SOC cases account for in the higher courts’ caseload? 
  • Is this harm equally distributed across (i) offence types, (ii) the different groups involved in SOC, and (iii) different locations?
  • Is there an association between cases involving SOC and the likelihood of court proceedings being discontinued or dismissed?
  • Among SOC cases, which factors (linked to defendant characteristics, group size, main offence, and location) were predictive of Crown Court proceedings being discontinued or dismissed? 
  • Is there an association between involvement in SOC and repeat appearances before the courts?

The methodology used in this study: 

  • Descriptive statistics will be used to report on the prevalence and incidence of SOC offending across the Crown Court caseload between 2013 and 2020 (Q1), and to describe the cumulative harm attributable to SOC cases during this period (Q2). 
  • Analysis of variance (e.g. ANOVA) will test whether levels of harm varied by location, across offence types, or for different groups involved in SOC (Q3). 
  • Chi-square tests will assess the extent to which proceedings were discontinued or dismissed (Q4), and rates of repeat use of the courts (Q6), differed between SOC and non-SOC cases.  
  • The project will use multiple logistic regression to determine whether a range of factors relating to demographics (for example, age, gender, ethnicity), SOC group size, main offence, and location were related to the probability of court proceedings being discontinued or dismissed for SOC defendants (Q5).
  • When examining the rate and frequency of court reappearances (Q6), the project will test the feasibility of matching SOC and non-SOC defendants on relevant demographic and offence variables using propensity score matching. This will allow the use survival or time-to-event analyses to then measure and quantify the impact of different factors (relating to demographics, main offence, location and SOC status) on the risk of a court reappearance within a defined follow-up period (for example, two years following release from custody).

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This project aims to explore the following research questions: 

  • What is the risk that a defendant will return to court?
  • How does this risk change in the timeafter the first observed court case (index)? 
  • Is the risk of return for the same offencethe sameas for a different offence? 
  • What are the risks of criminal careerssuch specialisation and escalation/de-escalation in offence type and/or seriousness of the offence(s)?
  • What influence did characteristics of the defendant and the index case have on the risks?

The methodology used in this study:

Following a general overview of the scale and pattern of defendants in repeat use of the courts, the project will apply methods of recurrent event analysis, including the Kaplan-Meier estimator and analysis of competing risks. These involve examining the time after defendants are observed in a first (index) case until the event of a second case; thereby entering a state of repeated use of the courts. Following analysis of the overall risk of repeated use, the project will focus on the different forms in which a second criminal case could occur, specifically any change in offence type or seriousness, in competing risks analysis.

Meanwhile, the effect that characteristics of the defendant and the index case have on the risk of repeat use will be analysed.

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