Jane Croft

The backlog of crown court docket circumstances is inflicting “grave considerations” amongst the federal government inspectors who monitor the justice system, a brand new report has discovered.

The research which appeared on the influence of the pandemic on the Prison Justice System has concluded that the best threat to prison justice in England and Wales comes from the “unprecedented and really critical” backlog in court docket circumstances which is having a ripple influence 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 have been closed and jury trials have been briefly suspended for 2 months final yr. Since then numbers of hearings have fallen as a result of two or three video-linked courtrooms at the moment are wanted for every trial because of social distancing measures.

The variety of excellent circumstances in crown courts in England and Wales rose from 39,318 in early March to 53,318 in late November, in line with HM Courts and Tribunals Service which has opened plenty of new non permanent “Nightingale” courts to assist ease strain 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 considerations” concerning the influence 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 levels of the prison justice course of that “profit nobody and threat injury to many”.

Justin Russell, chief inspector of probation, stated: “Crown Courts cope with probably the most critical circumstances, so this backlog considerations us all. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant extreme delays and quite a few cancellations all through 2020, and this has had a adverse influence on everybody concerned.”

David Lammy, Labour’s shadow justice secretary, referred to as the report “damning” and stated the federal government had “dithered” permitting the backlog to develop.

The Crown Prosecution Service stated: “Safely decreasing the backlog of court docket circumstances is significant so we will ease strain on prosecutors and proceed to ship justice. We’re working urgently with companions to attain this.”

The Ministry of Justice stated: “In recognition of the size 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 circumstances reached pre-pandemic ranges final month.”