Responding to HMCTS’ COVID-19: Update on the HMCTS response for criminal courts in England & Wales September 2020 published today, Chair of the Bar Council, Amanda Pinto QC, said:

“This recovery plan is welcome but long overdue. The Lord Chancellor and the Ministry of Justice have taken on board the many concerns expressed by the Bar Council and others involved in the criminal justice system when shaping it. We are pleased that acknowledgement that greater use of the existing court estate, more Nightingale Courts, greater use of better technology and significant staff recruitment are all vital to recovery.  We continue to watch cautiously to see whether extending operating hours has the desired effect on improving case volumes without impinging on court users including legal professionals. We are listening to the experience of our members who are involved in the process and feeding that back.

“Before Covid-19, the criminal justice system was already in severe difficulty and the backlog of cases in our courts was inexcusable. If the idea behind this recovery plan is only to restore criminal justice to the way it was pre-Covid, then it will achieve little of worth. The need for long term, significant investment is crucial if justice is to survive a second wave and keep the number of cases going through system under control.”