In Justice Questions today I pressed the Government to tackle the worrying backlog in the criminal justice system during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month I joined other Gwent MPs in writing a letter to the Ministry of Justice to ask for assurances that prosecutions for serious crimes would still take place during the ongoing pandemic. In the letter, we raised concerns that there could be a five month wait for court appearances.
Speaking via video link in Justice Questions today, I said “I know Gwent Police are hard at work tackling criminality including domestic violence. But with the lockdown added on to the existing backlog in the courts system, the people they arrest now might not be brought before courts for many months and may go on to commit other crimes. So will the Minister be more specific on how the Government is going to speed up the justice system?”
Responding in the Commons Chamber, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland MP said that work was ongoing to progress more cases through the magistrates and crown courts, including through the use of virtual hearings.
Government cuts to the criminal justice system over the last decade have had a serious impact. The number of outstanding cases increased by 13% year-on-year in the last quarter of 2019 to 37,434, and this severe backlog is only being exacerbated by the Covid-19 outbreak. We need urgent action to address the problem before it deepens further.