Addressing delays in crown court cases

The backlog in crown courts is a cause for extreme concern and must be dealt with as a matter of urgency, particularly given the devastating impact of delays on both victims and defendants (Crown court backlog has reached ‘crisis levels’, report warns, marzo 30).

It is especially concerning that the delays will have a disproportionate impact on particular cohorts, including defendants who turn 18 before their case is heard and who subsequently will appear in the adult court rather than the youth court. Magistrates have been key to keeping the justice system functioning during the pandemic and are keen to play their part in reducing delays.

Given that the backlog in magistrates courts is now being successfully addressed, the government could ease the extreme pressure on crown courts by allowing more cases to be heard in magistrates courts. Extending the jurisdiction of these courts to 12 months would both allow cases to be dealt with more efficiently and free up crown court capacity to deal with the most serious cases.
Beverley Higgs
Chair, Magistrates Association

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