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Jane Croft

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

The examine which appeared on the affect of the pandemic on the Legal Justice System has concluded that the best danger to felony justice in England and Wales comes from the “unprecedented and really severe” backlog in courtroom circumstances 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 at the moment are wanted for every trial as a result 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 response to HM Courts and Tribunals Service which has opened quite a few 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 precise “grave considerations” in regards to the affect of Covid-19-related courtroom 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 felony justice course of that “profit nobody and danger harm to many”.

Justin Russell, chief inspector of probation, mentioned: “Crown Courts take care of essentially the most severe 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 detrimental affect on everybody concerned.”

David Lammy, Labour’s shadow justice secretary, known 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 courtroom circumstances is important so we will ease strain 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 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.”