Public sites will open as Nightingale courtrooms in the new year

Public sites will open as Nightingale courtrooms in the new year

Public premises to be used as Nightingale courtrooms are due to open in the new year.

An additional nine more Nightingale courtrooms will open their doors at the end of January, which sees libraries, theatres and town halls to be used for non-custodial cases.

The venues consist of Birmingham Library and Repertory Theatre and Lancaster Town Hall who have begun to hear cases from today, other premises in Staffordshire and Cirencester will be utilised in the next few weeks. These new sites will hear non-custodial crime cases, along with civil, family and tribunals work.

Furthermore, two extra Crown Court rooms at the Royal Courts of Justice will be ready from 11th January.

The additional Nightingale courtrooms hopes to give existing courtrooms breathing space and allow more room to hear other cases, such as custodial jury trials, which need cells and secure dock services.

The Ministry of Justice confirmed the additional venues brought the total number of Nightingale courtrooms to 40 nationwide.

Lord chancellor Robert Buckland QC MP said:

“From the outset of the pandemic this government has been clear that justice must continue to be done and delivered as swiftly as possible. These new Nightingale Courts will help to boost capacity and reduce the delays caused by this virus.

‘Magistrates’ backlogs are falling, Crown courts are hearing more cases each week, and we are investing millions in the system to ensure we can drive this recovery further.”

Law Society president David Greene said:

“We are very pleased to hear additional Nightingale courts will be opened over the coming weeks and encourage the government to open more, as they are an essential resource during the pandemic.

“The pre-existing case backlogs across the civil and criminal justice systems have grown significantly during the pandemic – and using unused public buildings as Nightingale courts will help build capacity to clear the backlog. We would encourage HMCTS to be transparent about how the sites are being run, how efficient these measures have been and what improvements could be made.”

Greene added that court time must be used ‘as efficiently as possible’ and said investing in legal aid for early advice and legal representation ‘would help to nip problems in the bud before they escalate and reduce the need for cases to go to court’.

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