- Wolverhampton Park Hall Hotel, Hilton Liverpool City Centre and Croydon Jury’s Inn available for hearings from this week
- part of government’s plan to ensure justice continues throughout the pandemic
From this week Wolverhampton Park Hall Hotel will provide space for more jury trials by providing 2 additional courtrooms to hear non-custodial criminal cases, freeing up space at Wolverhampton Crown Court. The Hilton Liverpool City Centre will provide an additional courtroom for non-custodial criminal cases to free up space at Liverpool Crown Court. They will be joined by Croydon Jury’s Inn which will provide 2 additional rooms, one for Crown Court and one for Crown Court appeals work. This means that 5 new rooms are available to hear cases across the country, allowing more hearings to take place safely and delivering speedier justice for victims.
These moves form part of a £113m investment that is easing pressures on courts and tribunals. Other measures include recruiting 1,600 extra staff, further technology, and on-site safety precautions such as plexiglass screens. This is in addition to the £142m being spent to speed up technological improvements and modernise courtrooms. The impact of these measures is already being seen:
- England and Wales is believed to be the first comparable major jurisdiction in the world to resume jury trials, with hundreds now being listed each week
- outstanding cases in the magistrates’ courts have fallen by around 50,000 since the peak last summer
- while the number of disposals continues to be just under pre-Covid levels, the Crown Court continues to see an increase in the number of trials listed
- more than 20,000 hearings using remote technology are taking place each week – compared to around 550 in March 2020 – a 4,000% rise
Courts Minister, Lord Wolfson QC, said:
This is part of our action to tackle the impact of the pandemic on our courts and reduce delays for victims. As a result, the number of outstanding cases in the magistrates’ is falling and the number of trials being listed in the Crown Court increases each week.
The decision to keep courts and tribunals open during the pandemic has had a tangible impact on people’s lives. Between April and September 2020 over 9,000 court orders were issued to protect children from female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and domestic abuse.
Meanwhile, a major £40m investment announced last month will go towards specialist help for vulnerable victims – funding helplines and the recruitment of more counsellors. This comes as an extra £337m was confirmed in the recent Spending Review to deliver swifter justice and support victims in 2021 to 2022, while £76m will further increase capacity in family courts and tribunals.