Courts: Coronavirus:Written question - 42029

Q
(Newcastle upon Tyne North)
[N]
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Asked on: 01 May 2020
Ministry of Justice
Courts: Coronavirus
Commons
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many victims of crime have been affected by delays in court proceedings during the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps have been taken to communicate with them.
A
Answered by: Chris Philp
Answered on: 06 May 2020

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is working hard in partnership with the judiciary to keep our justice system functioning during this unprecedented public health emergency. Our priorities are to maintain access to justice and to protect the safety of all who work in the courts and tribunals.

We are continuously reviewing our approach in light of Public Health England advice and to understand impacts on our users. We do not collect information centrally on numbers of victims affected by delays in court proceedings during the outbreak. However, we are committed to ensuring victims continue to receive the support they need during this challenging time, and have robust and flexible plans in place to ensure that we can continue to deliver key services across the justice system, including the support of victims. We have been working across government and with justice partner agencies to ensure that there will be comprehensive support for victims and witnesses across England and Wales.

During the outbreak, magistrates’ courts have been covering urgent work and trials are now re-starting. Crown Courts have also been continuing to deal with a range of work, including sentencing hearings. The Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor are currently in close discussion regarding the safe re-start of limited Jury trials, which we hope can be resumed before the end of May. The decision to re-start jury trials is dependent on the system as a whole being ready. This will include HMCTS, the professions, those supporting victims and witnesses, and jurors who should have confidence that trials are able to operate effectively within social distancing guidelines.

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