Court case backlog 'could take up to 10 years to clear'
Euro News

Court case backlog 'could take up to 10 years to clear'

The increasing backlog of court cases could take up to a decade to clear, a report

Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) carried out an inspection to look at the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) handling of the coronavirus pandemic after lockdown measures were imposed in March.

In a report published today, it warned there were challenges to come with the backlog of cases which are increasing daily, with some estimates indicating it could take up to 10 years to clear.

It estimated that trial backlogs in the magistrates’ courts have increased by 32% between the beginning of March and early May, from 12,100 to 16,000. In crown courts, the estimated increase is 43%, from 17,400 to 24,900, in the same time period.

By the end of May, the increase in backlogs was 41% in the magistrates’ courts and 53% in the crown court.

The report states: “Court sittings and courtroom capacity with social distancing requirements will not allow for reduction of the existing backlog. Some estimates show that the current scale of increase in the backlog would take 10 years to clear at pre-pandemic rates.”

It continued: “Without some innovative thinking and solutions, the challenge of addressing the backlog is likely to be much more complex than dealing with the immediate crisis.”

Inspectors virtually visited three CPS areas in the West Midlands, North West and Wessex, between March 16 and May 8. The CPS was praised by inspectors for its “effective and sound” actions which ensured the smooth running of the criminal justice system before and during the lockdown.

Court staff told inspectors they were being supported by their managers, as they were kept up to date with what was happening with regular communication.

Wellbeing hubs and webinars were created to help staff with their heath and mental wellbeing, as well as support packages, consisting of equipment such as laptop stands, monitors, chairs and keyboards, to support the needs of those working from home.

The report states one member of the CPS lost their life to Covid-19.

Commenting on the report, HM Chief Inspector Kevin McGinty said: “The CPS has played a key role in ensuring that justice has continued to be delivered. It’s encouraging to see staff felt that their safety was a top priority, and they were updated regularly with what was happening and what was required.

“It’s clear that actions the CPS took in creating its 2020 vision allowed them to react in such a way that the pandemic has had a very limited impact on its business. I hope that the fervour and innovation that has taken place during the initial response is maintained into and throughout the challenge of recovery.”

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Nicole Benitez
Nicole Benitez is the author of our Euro News section. As the world awakens to a new dawn idea, a lot of fake news and misconceptions are communicated to the public when there is no need! For all our clarifications and Europe related policy decisions, Nicole is who we rely on. Her eloquence when debating issues plaguing Europe will leave you starstruck!

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