In response to comments made by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, about the state of the criminal justice system, Derek Sweeting QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:

“The Bar Council echoes many of the comments made by the Lord Chief Justice about the current backlog of cases in the Crown Courts, which deal with the most serious offences. This  has been caused by years of justice budget cuts exacerbated by the pandemic. It is encouraging that the head of the judiciary also shares our concerns about the difficulties of investigating and prosecuting rape and other sexual offences. The Bar faces these challenges, and others in our fragile criminal justice system, on a daily basis.

“Justice needs long-term investment in order to reduce the crippling backlog and cut unacceptable delays. But it is not clear that smaller juries or a two track system will make any impact. We have previously highlighted the risk that such a move will reduce the high level of confidence that the public have been shown to place in the jury system.”