SURREY PCC – DAVID MUNRO CALLS FOR LESS DITHERING AND MORE ACTION AFTER REPORT IN DELAYS IN CRIMINAL
Responding to a damning report on delays in the criminal justice system released today by four police and justice inspectorates, Surrey Police and crime Commissioner David Munro has added his voice to those calling for more action and less dithering by the Ministry of Justice to get the system back on track. Together with his PCC colleagues up and down the country, he has been urging the government for months to get Crown and Magistrates courts moving in this Covid-19 world. For example:
- emergency funding to the Crown Prosecution Service, the police and the defence community to be able to prepare and conduct more hearings.
- greater urgency to find suitable spaces which could be converted into courtrooms.
- a review of the number of jurors required - it’s easier to socially-distance with 6 or 8 people, not 12.
- using far more video technology for remote hearings - one system that was used in the region has now been put on the shelf.
- above all, greater drive and leadership from the top.
David Munro said: ‘Although the situation in Surrey is not as bad as some other areas, it’s still pretty stark. Trials are simply not happening fast enough to catch up with the backlog. This is causing untold misery amongst victims, witnesses and indeed alleged
perpetrators who are on a knife-edge waiting for their guilt or innocence to be determined. For example, there are over 1300 people on the books of my Victim and Witness Care Unit, nearly double the usual amount. These are all people, many of them highly vulnerable, waiting for justice.’ ‘It gets worse: the victim abandonment rate is soaring - - victims are increasingly saying they’ve had enough’. ‘I don’t blame local agencies - they’re doing heroic work to get though as many trials and hearings as possible. But they’re not yet being helped nearly enough by central government.’
David Munro – 19th January 2021
Report issued 19 January: ‘Impact of the Pandemic on the Criminal Justice System - a Joint View of the Criminal Justice Chief Inspectors on the Criminal Justice System’s response to Covid-19