Labour calls for urgent action as Crown Court backlog hits new record high
New data released today by the Ministry of Justice shows the backlog in the Crown Courts hit a new all-time high of more than 57,000 cases in February.
As a result of the backlog, which now sits at 57,516 cases, victims of serious crime, including rape, are being forced to wait up to four years for justice. Meanwhile, violent offenders are being allowed to avoid prison because of delays.
The news of the record-breaking backlog comes despite the fact that last summer the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland stated his ambition to get the backlog in the courts “sorted and manageable by Easter next year ”.
Over the course of the pandemic, Labour has outlined a package of measures to reduce the backlog including war juries of six in most cases until restrictions are lifted, the rapid extension of Nightingale Courts, the roll-out of mass testing in courts and 33,000 additional sitting days – all of which the government has so far ignored.
David Lammy MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, said:
“The government is letting victims of crime down by allowing the Crown Court backlog to reach more than 57,000 cases for the very first time.
“A decade of Conservative cuts to courts, sitting days and the whole justice system allowed the backlog to grow to a staggering 39,000 cases even before the pandemic began.
“The government must now finally listen to Labour and enact the emergency measures we have been pushing for months to ensure victims do not face even worse delays.”