The backlog of crown court docket instances is inflicting “grave issues” amongst the federal government inspectors who monitor the justice system, a brand new report has discovered.
The research which appeared on the affect of the pandemic on the Prison Justice System has concluded that the best threat to felony justice in England and Wales comes from the “unprecedented and really severe” backlog in court docket instances which is having a ripple affect on all elements of the justice system.
The case backlog predates the coronavirus pandemic however the state of affairs has been exacerbated by Covid-19 after crown courts had been closed and jury trials had been quickly suspended for 2 months final yr. Since then numbers of hearings have fallen as a result of two or three video-linked courtrooms are actually wanted for every trial resulting from social distancing measures.
The variety of excellent instances in crown courts in England and Wales rose from 39,318 in early March to 53,318 in late November, based on HM Courts and Tribunals Service which has opened numerous new momentary “Nightingale” courts to assist ease stress on the system.
The federal government’s 4 chief justice inspectors — who monitor the probation service, police, jail and the Crown Prosecution Service—- have united within the newest report to specific “grave issues” concerning the affect of Covid-19-related court docket backlogs throughout England and Wales.
The chief inspectors, who will testify earlier than lawmakers on the justice committee on Tuesday, level to difficulties and prolonged waits in any respect phases of the felony justice course of that “profit nobody and threat injury to many”.
Justin Russell, chief inspector of probation, mentioned: “Crown Courts cope with probably the most severe instances, so this backlog issues us all. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant extreme delays and quite a few cancellations all through 2020, and this has had a destructive affect on everybody concerned.”
David Lammy, Labour’s shadow justice secretary, referred to as the report “damning” and mentioned the federal government had “dithered” permitting the backlog to develop.
The Crown Prosecution Service mentioned: “Safely lowering the backlog of court docket instances is important so we will ease stress on prosecutors and proceed to ship justice. We’re working urgently with companions to realize this.”
The Ministry of Justice mentioned: “In recognition of the dimensions of the problem we face, the federal government is investing £450m to spice up restoration within the courts and ship swifter justice, and that is already yielding outcomes — the magistrates’ backlog continues to fall and Crown Courts instances reached pre-pandemic ranges final month.”