Lockdowns have caused a “significant backlog of criminal cases” in Scotland, according to the country’s Courts and Tribunals Service. The Telegraph has the story.
The backlog in Scotland’s court cases due to Covid will not be cleared until 2025, justice system chiefs announced on Friday.
There is now a “significant backlog of criminal cases”, according to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS), and cases are taking longer to come to trial while the number of people held on remand has increased.
This creates “downstream impacts” on community justice services and prisons, they warned.
The SCTS has announced plans to expand remote jury centres and create additional courts from this September as part of a court recovery programme to deal with the backlog.
New jury trials were put on hold for several months last year due to the virus outbreak.
There will also be four additional High Courts, two additional Sheriff Courts for solemn cases and up to 10 more Sheriff Courts for summary cases.
With these extra resources, the SCTS said it predicts the backlog of High Court and Sheriff solemn cases will be cleared by 2025, and summary trial backlogs will be dealt with by 2024.
The picture isn’t much more positive in England and Wales. In January, four criminal justice watchdogs said that they had “grave concerns” about the impact of court backlogs caused by lockdowns. They highlighted that some crimes committed in 2020 will not go before a jury until 2022. The number of outstanding cases for Crown Courts increased by almost 10,000 between March and December 2020.
The report on the Scottish court backlog is well worth reading in full.