Politics

Nightingale courts to continue after lockdown to clear backlog

Nightingale courts are to be prolonged to be used after lockdown ends in an try to clear the backlog of instances within the felony justice system.

The Telegraph understands that the short-term courtrooms introduced in throughout the Covid disaster might be used after their funding runs out over the summer season.

The newest figures from the Ministry of Justice present that the backlog for crown court docket instances rose to 56,544 on the finish of January – up from 38,411 earlier than the pandemic.

The ministry and the courts service are extending the leases on Nightingale court docket buildings, though some are doubtless to return to their supposed use when restrictions are eased.

There are at the moment 56 Nightingale courtrooms open within the UK, with an additional 4 due by the tip of the month as a part of a £113 million bundle to assist the justice system. Some have operated in buildings which were out of use due to Covid restrictions, such because the Lowry theatre in Manchester.

Court dates for trials have been set again so far as 2023, with some involving crimes together with intercourse offences in opposition to youngsters.

On Wednesday, Lord Wolfson, a justice minister, informed the justice choose committee that the time taken to take care of intercourse offences was “too long” with the typical time taken between the offence and case completion akin to sentencing standing at “about 620 days”.

It got here as courts additionally started to put together for social distancing to lengthen past the tip of the roadmap out of lockdown, with the specter of a 3rd coronavirus wave this winter.

Kevin Sadler, the performing chief government of HM Courts and Tribunals Service, informed the committee: “Even if social distancing requirements were completely removed, we’re going to maintain the plexiglass and physical arrangements we’ve made so that, were there to be a resurgence in the winter, we can immediately spring back into social distancing arrangements and so on.”

A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service mentioned: “More and more cases are being heard every week – we have opened 56 Nightingale courts and have a record number of courtrooms open for jury trials. We are spending hundreds of millions to drive recovery while working alongside the judiciary to prioritise the most urgent cases.”

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