Courtsdesk UK

UK Criminal Courts
data solutions

Our UK platform is a ground-breaking digital web portal into the criminal courts of the UK, built under a pilot with permission from HM Courts and Tribunals Service, the Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary to make data on all prosecutions in England and Wales available to the news media in near real-time, with search, filters, tracking and alerts.

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How it works

Criminal court case information is published throughout the day, with some 12,000 updates in any given 24 hour period. The Courtsdesk UK platform aggregates and distributes this information live, with search, filters and alerts which can be tailored to ensure our clients never miss a hearing of interest.

Updating live throughout the day, our platform offers the first national feed of aggregated Lists and Registers from the Magistrates Courts of England and Wales. Every case appears with its own timeline of events, in text formatted for quick export.

What our clients say about Courtsdesk

“Courtsdesk has become an essential service that has changed and improved how we report on the courts.We have adopted it across all of our newsrooms across the UK. Feedback from editors has been clear. There has been excellent uptake from reporters, with stories produced that would have been nigh-on impossible without this tool. The number of court cases we are covering since adopting the platform has increased, from a few hundred in a month to over 1,000 in just a few months since we rolled it out. And the ability to access case information has improved in important ways, for example the ability to discover significant cases ahead of time so that we can ensure a reporter can be sent to cover them in court. Other features of the platform, such as how journalists can easily see where reporting restrictions are made, have also reduced some of the risks involved in handling sensitive case information.”

Toby Granville, Editorial Director at Newsquest

“Courtsdesk has become indispensable to the newsroom.It makes the huge amounts of information from the criminal courts accessible in a useful way for the first time. Reporters can not only find out what’s going on in Magistrates Courts all across the country and do advanced search for very specific things, but they can also set up tracking to receive alerts for cases which they know will be important to cover. It’s a game changer for criminal court reporting.”

Alex Goss, Head of News, The Sun

“Open justice is the backbone of any democracy, but in recent years it had become harder than ever for journalists to monitor what was happening in courts around the UK. Then along came Courtsdesk, which not only gave us access to vital information but the ability to be able to search and research in sophisticated ways. It has quickly become an indispensable tool for a newsroom.”

James Coney, News Projects Editor at The Sunday Times

Consolidated criminal courts data...

The Magistrates Courts of England and Wales are the forum for a wide range of proceedings in addition to all criminal prosecutions brought by the Crown Prosecution Service or Police. Some examples of the case data available for search and research include:

  • All criminal cases, from speeding to murder
  • Environment cases, e.g. taken by County Councils
  • Financial freezing orders under proceeds of crime 
  • Extradition cases 
  • Corporate killings
  • Terrorism offences
  • Private prosecutions
  • Immigration cases

Advanced financial crime and fraud research...

Clients such as leading news media such as the Sunday Times and Guardian have already started conducting trend analysis in prosecutions for financial crime, for example collating and analysing freezing orders against banks taken under Proceeds of Crime legislation.

Tailored alerts for relevant matters...

Powerful filters to find cases based on crime types, defendant names and dates of birth, convictions and case outcomes, or any keywords contained in the charge or verdict, such as ‘fraud’ or ‘money laundering’ or ‘proceeds of crime’. Any combination of search can be tracked for future alerts.

Statistics and investigations...

Unprecedented power to research the workings of the justice system. Investigations our clients and partners have conducted include the page 1 Guardian story about Coronavirus prosecutions continuing two years after lockdown ended, or reviews of domestic abuse and assault prosecutions. Get in touch with us if you have an idea – we are on call to help.

The first database of reporting restrictions and case-reporting guidance...

In any criminal court case where reporting restrictions are explicitly made, or legislation such as s49 of the Children and Young Persons Act applies, the Courtsdesk UK platform automatically tags the case with a “Press” tag.


Additional tags such as “Youth” or “Caution” are applied where risks pertain to the identification of youths or where enhanced caution is required on the part of reporters, for example to prevent identification of a victim in a sexual assault case. 


This constitutes the first database of press reporting restrictions in the UK, with over 55,000 individual cases with press restrictions collated since the start of the pilot, improving media access to critical information and reducing editorial risk with the goal of improving outcome of media reporting for all participants in the justice system. 


It is important to note that publication of reporting restrictions is required only when the order is first made. Cases are  often listed subsequently without mention of such orders in the past – a problem solved by Courtsdesk UK which joins all mentions of a case into a consolidated case page with a timeline, and with a Press tag to alert reporters of the order.

Courtsdesk for publishers...

We know Criminal court case information isn’t only a vital source of current affairs news content. The stories derived from it are the most valuable to publishers in terms of advertising-driven digital revenue, generating 2.3 times that of other stories on average. They are also the biggest driver of subscriber engagement in regional newspapers.


Put simply, it is engaging content – good for social platforms and customer acquisition, and for subscriber engagement and repeat visits. 


Our mission is to provide news organisations a new way to generate revenue by accessing this case information, at high volume, at a fraction of the usual cost. 


Research with clients during the pilot of the platform to date has shown dramatic increases in Magistrates Courts coverage. 


In one study, an analysis at six regional papers across the UK, comparing three months of courts coverage before and after the adoption of Courtsdesk UK, showed a 300% increase on average in the number of court stories, and a 200% increase in the number of reports where a journalist had attended a Magistrates Court hearing. 


Consider the time it takes to create a ‘roundup’ article of a dozen or more cases in your local court. It used to take a reporter or editor an hour and more. Now it takes minutes.

Public data

for public good