The Covid19 pandemic has led to most day to day services pausing, cancelling or being postponed and that has sadly included some cases moving through our justice system.
Everybody should have access to justice and this should be as timely as possible, so it was great to see today that the Ministry of Justice has set up new temporary court rooms in Manchester, Liverpool, London and Birmingham. The court rooms labelled ‘Nightingale Courts’ are aimed at cutting the growing waiting lists for access to justice while also providing a small financial boost to venues like hotels and event spaces that are currently standing empty.
The sites will mainly be hearing non-custodial Crown Court Cases and will help allow more socially distanced trials to take place face to face, rather than through teleconferencing. Additionally a ‘super courtroom’ is being set up in Manchester for larger cases such as gang murder trials, where more staff, witnesses and defendants will be on trial.
The Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland, said:
We have achieved an immense amount in our battle to keep justice moving during the pandemic – restarting jury trials before anyone else, turbo-charging the rollout of video technology, bringing magistrates’ backlogs down, and opening more courtrooms for jury trials.
These new courts are the latest step in that effort, and I am determined to minimise delays and ensure justice is served for victims, defendants and the public.
That is why we are investing hundreds of millions to drive this recovery further, deliver swifter justice and support victims.
On top of financial boosts to help improve court sites, bring new technology for teleconference hearings, introduce rapid testing for face to face sessions and hiring more staff, this is a great step towards catching up on vital cases which were sadly postponed by the pandemic.
The courts haven’t stopped since the pandemic began with over 10,000 cases being heard but with so many more in the pipeline from criminal and civil to benefit tribunals, family proceedings and employment cases, there is plenty to be catching up on using these new designated court spaces.