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Government’s ‘speedier justice’ pledge left in tatters as almost two-thirds of courts lie empty

ALMOST two thirds of Britain’s courts are sitting empty, making a mockery of a Government pledge to start delivering “speedier justice”.

A Sun on Sunday probe found only 242 out of 727 courtrooms were in use across England and Wales last week.

One sat for just ten minutes, while another was open for half an hour, passing only one sentence before adjourning for the day.

There is a backlog of 550,000 cases in our legal system, which includes 41,000 in the Crown Court. This is growing by 40 cases a day.

The Criminal Bar Association, which passed the figures to us due to its “deep concerns” at the crisis, yesterday said: “Justice is not being served.

“The way the Government is handling this crisis in our courts is pathetic.”

Our investigation today lays bare how the Government’s response to relieving the impact on our courts caused by Covid-19 is in chaos.

And this month and next, courts — including the High Court and the Court of Appeal — are set to CLOSE for the summer.

Child offenders are facing such long delays that they are likely to turn 18 by the time they face justice.

Many high-profile cases are being delayed, heaping misery on victims and their families.

The trial of police officer Benjamin Monk, accused of murdering former Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson, has been relisted for next year.

Old court buildings make social distancing modifications difficult.

And because trials require large numbers of people in a small space, thousands have simply been put on hold.

Since May, only 250 Crown Court cases in England and Wales have been completed.

The judiciary would expect to get through 250 a week. Last week, courts across the country were sitting empty.

According to the CBA study:

Some of the biggest courts in the country are nowhere near full

The Government last month said ten new Nightingale Courts would be set up to cope with Covid-19 delays.

But Caroline Goodwin QC, chair of the CBA, warned that 100 such courts were needed for there to be any chance of clearing the backlog.

A courts spokesman said: “We are working very hard to deliver swift justice and to keep court users safe.”

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