Report reveals courts cost £1.5bn a year

The new unified courts services is costing £1.5bn to run, its first annual report revealed yesterday (25 July).

Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCS) was set up in April 2005 to integrate the running of magistrates’ courts, Crown courts and country courts as well as the Royal Courts of Justice. It covers 650 courts and employs 20,000 people.

In 2005-2006 the cost of running the courts was almost £1.5bn. £801m went on staff costs, while operating costs accounted for £594m. Depreciation cost HMCS £81m.

HMCS made £538m from a variety of sources including court fees and fines, meaning the net cost to the government of running the courts is £1bn.

Civil matters accounted for £555m of the expenditure, but brought in £408m in income. The criminal courts cost £977m, but only made £115m in income.

Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, said that HMCS was helping to deliver a better service to court users.