The queue for court justice continues to grow as more than half a million cases are now outstanding in England and Wales. The unprecedented backlog means many cases will now be heard in 2022.
There are over 500,000 crown and criminal court cases now waiting to be heard in England and Wales, with top officials revealing many cases now face being put back until 2022.
David Greene, president of the Law Society, acknowledged the extensive delays will evidently cause victims pain and anxiety, ‘with trials now being listed for 2022.’ Greene believes that extending the Nightingale Court programme could help to alleviate the pressure on the system, arguing that ‘increasing the number of locations where cases can be held is a safer way of generating more capacity.’
But further plans to speed up the rate at which cases can be heard have received a hostile response. The Criminal Bar Association’s (CBA) plan to hold two hearings a day in the same courtroom, instead of one, has been heavily criticised by barristers, as they believe the plan would put them and their colleagues at greater risk of catching coronavirus. Even if the extended hours plan gets the green light, it is only expected to allow an extra 40 trials per month across ten courts.
The CBA’s chairman, James Mulholland QC, stated that: ‘Doubling the volume of human traffic through the same restricted space for a significantly longer period than normal during the course of a day brings added risk of infection.’ He also urged the government to consider those attempting to clear court backlogs for quicker access to the vaccination programme.
Over in Scotland, only the most serious trials will now continue in order to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf stated he was ‘acutely aware’ of the impact these ongoing delays would have on victims, yet acknowledged that helping to ‘safeguard health’ is society’s collective duty.
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