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Reducing the backlog in criminal courts


The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a growing backlog of cases waiting to be tried in the criminal courts system. During the first national lockdown, HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) closed some court buildings, and suspended all jury trials. Since then, courts have reopened, but national guidelines for social distancing mean a reduced number of hearings can be held, and the backlog has steadily increased.

This backlog has had significant impacts on defendants, some of whom are held in custody on remand, and on victims and witnesses, many of whom are waiting months and years to have even extremely serious cases heard.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and HMCTS are implementing a COVID-19 recovery programme to tackle the growing backlog. These efforts will have impacts across the whole criminal justice system.

The Committee will question senior officials at the MoJ and HMCTS on how they are managing the criminal case backlog, including their understanding of demand and capacity in the criminal courts, the effectiveness of their COVID-19 recovery programme, and their work across the criminal justice system to understand and plan for demand which is expected to increase further as thousands of new police officers are recruited.

If you have evidence on these issues, submit it here by Monday 6 December 2021.

This inquiry is no longer accepting evidence

The deadline for submissions was Monday 6 December 2021.

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  • Address: Public Accounts Committee, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA