Court backlog is seeing justice grind to a halt

Justice in Scotland is grinding to a halt as the court backlog of trials has grown to a new peak of nearly 50,000 cases.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 9th August 2021, 3:46 pm
Updated Monday, 9th August 2021, 3:46 pm
Stranraer Sheriff Court remains closed
Stranraer Sheriff Court remains closed

Latest figures show that the number of scheduled trials has increased by more than 1,500 cases to 42,451 overall.

The Scottish Court Tribunal Service has estimated that there are now 48,993 cases awaiting a judgement.

The news comes after Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson wrote to the Scottish Justice Secretary Keith Brown urging him to allow court cases and jury trials to be staged in Stranraer.

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Jury trials restarted at Dumfries Sheriff Court back in April after the Scottish Government provided funding to expand the technical infrastructure to link it to the remote jury centre based in Ayr.

However, despite concerted pressure Stranraer is still waiting to reopen.

Mr Carson said: “As I have maintained being a victim of crime can be a traumatic experience for anyone to face.

“But having to wait more than a year to gain justice just makes it even more distressing.

"Given the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on our justice system it is imperative that this backlog is eased by any means possible.”

“I have already approached the justice secretary and suggested that Stranraer be allowed to stage court cases and jury trials as soon as possible in order to speed things up.

“His predecessor Humza Yousaf agreed with me and allowed court business to resume again at Dumfries instead of transferring all court business to Ayr Sheriff Court,.

“The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service already has the technical remote infrastructure available so I see no reason why it cannot be rolled out in Stranraer as well as Dumfries.”

Court backlogs were reported to be an issue even before the pandemic and Mr Carson says Covid has simply intensified the problem.

He added: “Delays prevent people getting closure and force them through a prolonged and protracted wait to get justice.

"Victims must feel abandoned without mush sign of an end in sight, so we need action now.”

“The Scottish Government must throw whatever resources are needed at this backlog to get through these trials fairly, quickly and proportionately.”