Jury Trials (Mid Scotland and Fife)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 18th February 2021.

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Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

1. To ask the Scottish Government what progress has been made in resuming jury trials in Mid Scotland and Fife. (S5O-05025)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

That, of course, is an operational matter for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, but I understand that, within the sheriffdom of Tayside, Central and Fife, which covers the area in question, jury trials have resumed in the courts in Dundee, Perth, Falkirk and Kirkcaldy. Solemn business from other courts in the sheriffdom—namely, those in Alloa, Forfar, Dunfermline and Stirling—is being transferred to those four courts, and the SCTS anticipates that normal sheriff and jury trial capacity will be resumed across Scotland by the end of this month.

Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

The importance of resuming jury trials has been made clear by Victim Support Scotland, which has reported a significant rise in the number of people who are seeking support. I was going to ask about business in Dunfermline, but I understand that that comes under the business that is being restarted.

With a predicted backlog of some 2,000 cases expected by March and the majority of summary trials currently on hold, what further steps could the Scottish Government take to ensure that the backlog is reduced and timescales are shortened?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

That is a hugely important question. The impact of the suspension of trials during the first wave of the pandemic and now, after the Lord President’s most recent announcement, is significant. Claire Baker might know from the Scottish budget statement at the end of January that the Government has committed £50 million to the recover, renew and transform project, which will go directly into ensuring that we make a dent in the trials backlog. I can assure her that the criminal justice board is looking at how best to spend that £50 million so that we can reduce the impact of that increasing backlog.