UK criminal court case backlog set to last ‘several years’

The backlog of criminal cases ready to be heard in England and Wales is ready to final past 2024, leaving witnesses, victims and defendants ready years for justice, in response to a report by the parliamentary spending watchdog.

Delays are “prone to be a pervasive challenge for a number of years” and the variety of instances ready to be heard might nonetheless be between 17 per cent and 27 per cent greater than pre-pandemic levels in November 2024, the Nationwide Audit Workplace research revealed on Friday mentioned.

The crown court backlog in England and Wales has risen by 19,000 since coronavirus hit in March final yr and reached 60,692 instances on the finish of June 2021, in response to official statistics, prompting extra calls for presidency motion.

The NAO famous, in response to a Ministry of Justice estimate in April 2021, that a further £500m in funding can be wanted between 2021 and 2024 to scale back the backlog to beneath 50,000. This could be on prime of an additional £1.7bn for authorized support, prisons and probation companies.

The report additionally famous that the MoJ’s personal forecasts produced in July 2021 prompt the crown court docket backlog may very well be between 48,000 and 52,000 by November 2024.

The NAO report is prone to strengthen the hand of Dominic Raab, the brand new justice secretary, as he battles with the Treasury for extra cash to repair the legal justice system forward of subsequent week’s departmental spending evaluate.

The report was been greeted with concern by the authorized occupation. Derek Sweeting QC, chair of the Bar Council, which represents barristers, mentioned: “The alarming figures set out within the NAO report present that the legal justice system is at breaking level.” I Stephanie Boyce, president of the Legislation Society, which represents solicitors, mentioned it highlighted “the dire want for funding ensuing from years of cuts”. 

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, mentioned: “Regardless of efforts to extend capability in legal courts, it appears seemingly that the backlog will stay an issue for a few years. ”

The NAO research highlighted rape and sexual offence instances as being significantly badly affected by delays. Between March 2020 and June 2021, the variety of sexual offence prosecutions within the court docket backlog elevated by 71 per cent — from 3,606 to six,173 instances, in response to the watchdog.

There was a 435 per cent enhance within the variety of sexual offence instances ready within the crown court docket backlog for longer than a yr — from 246 in March 2020 to 1,316 in June 2021.

The NAO concluded that the MoJ had reacted rapidly to the pandemic and spent £63m on legal court docket restoration work in 2020-2021 in addition to introducing new IT programs, organising 72 non permanent “Nightingale” courts, modifying present courtrooms and hiring additional workers.

It additionally famous the MoJ’s proof that with out the Nightingale courts, the crown court docket backlog would have been 4,470 greater by April 2021 however the NAO mentioned “important dangers stay” to the MoJ’s restoration plan.

The MoJ mentioned: “This report recognises the velocity at which we responded to Covid-19. This meant that — in a matter of months — our buildings have been made secure, distant know-how was rolled out throughout all courts, and Nightingale courtrooms opened up and down the nation to extend the area obtainable for trials.

“We’re already seeing the outcomes, with excellent instances within the magistrates’ courts falling, and within the crown court docket, the backlog stabilising.”

UK legal court docket case backlog set to final ‘a number of years’ Source link UK legal court docket case backlog set to final ‘a number of years’

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