To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate his Department has made of the rate of escalation of cases awaiting trial in magistrates courts; what the size of the backlog has been in each of the last three months; what recent assessment he has made of the likelihood of witnesses' testimonies being held to be reliable, if up to five years elapse between alleged offence and the accused facing trial; what the effect of such delay is likely to have on public confidence in the Justice system; and if he will take steps, on a temporary basis if necessary, to reduce that backlog.
The work to reduce the backlog is moving at pace so we can continue to increase the number of trials. More than 150 courts remained fully open to the public throughout the pandemic and by the middle of July all court centres will have reopened. We have prioritised the most urgent cases, such as domestic abuse and COVID-19 related cases, to keep the public safe, and the interests of victims and witnesses are continually considered as a part of the reopening of courts.
Data showing the number of outstanding cases in the Magistrates Court is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/hmcts-weekly-management-information-during-coronavirus-march-to-may-2020
A courts recovery plan has been published which will sets out the urgent next steps that we are taking to increase capacity in the courts: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/court-and-tribunal-recovery-update-in-response-to-coronavirus