Staffing at Courts: Access to Justice

Part of The Secretary of State was asked – in the House of Commons on 14th January 2020.

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Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Minister of State (London)

I had not heard of the fame of the Chorley ice cream parlour, but perhaps I should add it to my list of recess destinations. [Interruption.] The Lord Chancellor says he is going to come along as well.

On the question of Crown courts sitting, we need to bear in mind that, as reported by the crime survey, the most reliable measure of criminal offending, over the past nine years there has been a significant reduction in the total number of criminal offences, from about 9.5 million offences in 2010 to about 6.5 million offences today. That is a very welcome 30% reduction under this Conservative Government, so of course, bearing in mind the reduction in the number of criminal offences, one would expect to have fewer sitting days. However, we keep the question of Crown court sitting days under continual review. Just a few weeks ago, my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor increased the number of Crown court sitting days in this current financial year by 700 to ensure that we keep working through the outstanding case load. The outstanding case load is at its lowest level since 2001. We will of course keep the question of Crown court sitting days under review for the next financial year—the one starting in a few weeks— and, if necessary, we will of course increase Crown court sitting days.