Covid’s already long backlog in court continues to grow


DEFENDANTS in Warrington are waiting even longer to face justice as the backlog of cases in court increases further.

Liverpool Crown Court and Chester Crown Court, where the vast majority of the most serious criminal cases involving Warrington are heard, face a growing backlog of cases.

Data from the Department of Justice shows that there were 1,688 pending cases at Liverpool Crown Court at the end of March.

That was a 51% increase from 1,118 at the same time last year and an increase of 87 cases since the last backlog numbers were released through December.

The figure includes 334 cases related to allegations of violent assault and 188 for sexual offenses.

The situation is also bad at Chester Crown Court, where there are 585 pending cases, including 124 relating to allegations of violent assault and 86 for sexual offenses.

This is a 47% increase from the 397 waiting to be heard at this point last year, and an increase of seven cases since December of last year.

A test tracked by the Warrington Guardian is scheduled for July 2022 at Liverpool Crown, while the farthest at Chester Crown is listed for February.

Across England and Wales, 59,500 cases were expected to be dealt with in Crown courts at the end of March, a 45% increase from the previous year.

The Justice Department said the long delays were due to the impact of Covid-19, which led to limited operation in criminal courts, particularly last year.

However, the Law Society of England and Wales, which represents the lawyers, said the pandemic had only worsened decades of underfunding and court closures.

Liverpool Crown Court

President Stephanie Boyce said the delays in cases further compounded the “court crisis” and could impact not only the lives of victims, but also the outcome of cases.

She added, “Let us not forget the victims, the years of waiting for justice, and sometimes the abandonment of the system, which is a blow to justice in this country.

“Memories fade, which means witnesses cannot provide such strong evidence, which can mean the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. ”

Charity Victim Support said longer wait times negatively impact victims, especially those suffering trauma from serious crime.

Rachel Almeida, Deputy Director, said: “Long delays undermine confidence in the criminal justice system and may deter victims and survivors from becoming involved in the future.

“All possible steps must be taken to address the backlog in the courts and reduce these long waits before trial.”

Coronavirus restrictions meant trials could not take place in some court buildings, leading to the opening of 60 Nightingale courtrooms across England and Wales, some based in stadiums, town halls and theaters.

Hearings were also conducted using remote technology, more than half of which were conducted this way between May and December of last year.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said that since April this year, the backlog of outstanding cases in Crown courts has started to decrease, although the latest figures are not available at the individual court level. .

They said: “The dedicated staff and professionals have kept justice in motion during the pandemic, and through their efforts, we are seeing positive results – outstanding cases in Crown court are starting to decline.

“Major challenges remain, which is why we are investing hundreds of millions to further increase capacity, deliver faster justice and support victims. ”

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