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Question on two-month extension to remand periods

30 September 2020

The Secondary Legislation Committee has expressed concerns about new regulations extending the time defendants can be held on remand awaiting trial.

In a report published this week, the SLSC has expressed concerns about new regulations extending by eight weeks the maximum time defendants in criminal cases can be held on remand while awaiting trial. 

The Prosecution of Offences (Custody Time Limits) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 extend the maximum remand period of a defendant awaiting jury trial in the Crown Court by 56 days (eight weeks) to allow the courts to manage the delays due to COVID-19.

The Committee’s report says while it understands that the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed court hearings while social distancing and infection prevention measures were put in place, a backlog in court hearings existed before the outbreak of the pandemic. The Committee expresses concern that this extension to the Custody Time Limit appears to be a way of working round the issue rather than solving the problem, and asks the Ministry of Justice what other measures are being used to tackle the backlog of criminal trials that have built up as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.