Much more action and investment needed to tackle unacceptable court delays

The government has today (Friday 11 August) announced it will continue not to cap judicial ‘sitting days’. It has also committed to invest in modernisation and repair work on court buildings.*

“The measures announced by the lord chancellor are a small step in the right direction to tackle the backlogs,” said our president Lubna Shuja.

“We have long highlighted the need to invest in our crumbling courtrooms and maximise the number of days judges can sit.**

“However much more needs to be done. The latest figures show that the backlogs of outstanding cases in the magistrates’ court and Crown Court continue to get worse. Victims and defendants are facing unacceptable delays with years spent in limbo as they wait for justice.***

“The courts have been operating at well below maximum. Far too many courtrooms are sitting empty every single day.****

“As well as making sure that courts are fit for purpose and available for judges to sit in, there needs to be urgent investment to tackle the chronic lack of personnel. Ensuring there are enough judges, court staff and lawyers to do the work must be a priority.

“We also need to urgently see criminal defence solicitors being given the recommended 15% legal aid rates’ increase that would help stop the exodus from the profession, which forms the backbone of the criminal justice system.”

Notes to editors

• * See the government announcement here

• ** See our five-point plan to help resolve the backlog here

• *** The figures for June 2023 show 350,693 outstanding cases in the magistrates’ courts, up from 333,230 in June 2022. There are 63,408 outstanding cases in the Crown Court compared to 58,478 in June 2022.

• **** See the daily information on how many courts are sitting

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