Today I asked the Minister for Justice about the backlog of Crown Court cases we are seeing as a result of the pandemic. I am particularly concerned this will continue to grow without serious intervention.
The backlog for individual cases in employment tribunals has already passed the post-2008 financial crash record, with 37,000 workers in the queue. Analysis by Citizens Advice suggests the number of outstanding claims could pass 500,000 by spring. This is not good enough from the Government.
We cannot allow for the Minister to avoid the facts. Last year he claimed that the huge reduction of the number of trials between 2010 and 2019 was “because crime is significantly down since 2010”. In fact recorded crime, which actually drives court activity and trials, has increased from 4.3 million cases in 2010 to nearly 6 million in 2020.
In order for the courts to be open, they must be COVID safe. However today, the Minister disagreed with the outgoing HM Chief Inspector CPS for suggesting some courts might not be as COVID safe as they could be. Further reassurance for court users is therefore needed and is essential for the courts to continue operating.