At the opening of the judicial year Italy's chief prosecutor, Francesco Favera, stated that 81 per cent of all reported crimes had gone unpunished in the first half of 2004. He also announced that there are currently nine million legal cases pending and each one will take an average of eight years to complete an increase of nine months compared 2003 figures. Legal time limits set for the hearing of some cases mean that they are rarely concluded satisfactorily. However, there are some signs of improvement, with more cases being concluded than initiated and more sentences handed out in 2004 compared to 2003.
The number of crimes reported also increased by almost four per cent last year, with a marked rise in cases of fraud (up 130 per cent) and of sexually-violent crimes (up 48 per cent). Cases of robbery, extortion, bankruptcy and drug-related crimes decreased.