Responding to calls for a two week pause on work in the Crown Court and Magistrates' Court, Derek Sweeting QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:

“The safety of everyone who is required to attend a court in person is paramount, but any decision to pause work in the criminal courts, even for two weeks, needs to take into account the impact this will have on the victims of crime, witnesses, defendants and the backlog, which is already too high. Closing courts should be a last resort after every effort has been made to make them as safe as possible. The government can and must do all it can to allow the work of the courts to continue, whether that be through more remote hearings, more Nightingale Courts or further safety measures.  We continue to ask for the specific scientific advice which the government has received in relation to court safety and the adequacy of the existing measures in preventing transmission of new variants in the court setting.”