Tackling court backlogs will need commitment to significant additional funding – Bar Council
The Ministry of Justice has announced plans to tackle the crown court backlogs, including a decision not to replace the cap on judicial sitting days and confirmation of £220 million investment in the courts and tribunals estate over the next two years.
Commenting, Nick Vineall KC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:
“The Bar Council has long raised concerns about the backlogs and crumbling courts.
“We welcome the announcement of continued investment in the court and tribunal estate. This will have to be increased and continue beyond two years in order to overcome years of underfunding.
“The decision not to impose artificial caps on court siting days is welcome and obviously sensible. But across the court system there are long delays and record backlogs. In the long term, there needs to be a properly thought out and properly funded plan to tackle these problems and that will inevitably mean a commitment to significant additional funding for the Ministry of Justice.
“In the short term, the top priority is to reduce the crown court backlogs. The conundrum for government is that the prisons are very very close to capacity, so an increase in crown court disposals is likely to create a crisis for the prison service. In the absence of some fresh thinking on the approach to sentencing or early release, it is hard to see how the backlogs can be materially reduced any time soon.”