Responding to the criminal court statistics quarterly for July to September 2020, which have been published today, Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said: “If the criminal justice system is a patient in recovery after the drastic impact of Covid-19 on a weak body with underlying health issues, regrettably these statistics show it was far from convalescing in September 2020. Criminal justice will relapse without greater, sustained investment to support the system. The backlog of cases in the Crown Court increased quarter on quarter, with greater numbers of trials being put off for longer. But an overall increase of 20% in time from receipt to completion of cases is very worrying because it includes those cases that do not even involve a trial. Even in the magistrates’ courts, where significant inroads have been made to achieve more cases disposed of than received, the outstanding caseload remains a phenomenal 43% higher than the same period last year.
“Barristers and solicitors, judges, jurors and court staff are all keeping the system going despite severe Covid-19 restrictions across the country. The Ministry of Justice has opened more Nightingale Courts and, since the period these figures cover, has opened many more courts and secured more welcome funding for the justice system so that it can employ necessary staff and crucial technology. These latest figures show that more funding is clearly needed to keep justice, the essential backbone of our life, going. How long will the victims of crime, those awaiting trial and the public have to wait before they see these numbers dramatically improve? Since September, we know that greater throughput of cases in both the magistrates and crown courts has been achieved; but if the figures just published were to be repeated or deteriorate further the impact will be more heartache and misery caused by excessive delays.”