By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
A police chief says a new crown court is needed in Kent to address a backlog of more than 2,000 cases in the county.
Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott says a “long-term solution” is needed to improve the running of the county’s justice system.
He has written to Boris Johnson’s Conservative government calling for a new crown court to be introduced in the county to help with the huge backlog.
The coronavirus pandemic added to the pressures already on the court system as jury trials were suspended and courts had to cope with staff shortages. Some trials and hearings face delays until 2023, it was revealed two months ago.
There are crown courts in Maidstone and Canterbury and latest government figures show that the total number of outstanding court cases in Kent is 2,064.
This marks a fall of 5% between October and December 2021, with more cases being seen as restrictions ease from the pandemic and capacity is expanded.
Mr Scott, who has been in office since 2016 and oversees criminal justice in the county, said: “We are on a long-term trajectory to try and get our backlog down to pre-pandemic levels.”
He added: “I think the long term solution is an extra crown court in Kent.”
His comments were made during a public meeting in County Hall, Maidstone, on Wednesday (February 2).
Several Kent MPs have lobbied for more changes, including Sevenoaks MP Laura Trott, Ashford MP Damian Green and Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “The crown court backlog in Kent has fallen in recent months. We have a package of measures in place to restore the swift access to justice victims deserve.
“This includes new Nightingale courtrooms, increased sentencing powers for magistrates and almost half a billion being invested to drive recovery in the courts.”
The Ministry says 60 Nightingale courtrooms have been set up across England to increase capacity to ensure more trials can be heard during the pandemic.
Kent has secured an extension to its Nightingale courtroom to provide more relief in dealing with non-custodial and bail matters for another 18 months.
The MOJ says £477million is being invested into the UK’s criminal justice system to increase capacity and reduce waiting times for a national backlog of 58,728 cases, according to Whitehall data from November 2021.
It has been described as the largest funding rise for more than a decade.
The UK government has introduced other temporary stop gaps, which include increasing the sentencing powers of magistrates, which is relieving some of the strain on the crown courts.
that says a lot about crime in kent then ?
It says a lot about the government and what it has and hasn’t been spending money on during the last 10 years.
Another example of the truth catching up with the government.
For twelve years we have seen local Magistrates and Crown Courts closing ,along with reductions in the number of Police Officers and the closures of local Police Stations.
Now, finally,some of the lower-level Tory functionaries, like Matthew Scott, are emerging to call for more spending to try to put it right.
But it will cost a lot of money to put this country right again. School pupils are still sharing books, libraries are still shutting or reducing hours, there is still a backlog of vital NHS operations , still a massive shortage of medical staff, not enough Care staff, thousands sleeping on the streets while the developers only want to build three and four-bed houses that are too expensive, and a terrifying number of homes with totally inadequate insulation to meet future energy demands.
We have been deliberately run down for years, but now we are only offered a minimum effort to rebuild, called “levelling up”.
Too little, too late.
These Tories are not for the lower to middle classes, they never have been. Why does the ordinary Joe listen to their spiel when general election time comes round again and again. The rich always get richer and everyone else is thrown to the dogs. The contempt they have towards anyone disabled paints a pretty picture too. They would love to see us all gone !
Matthew Scott should resign if he believes in what he says. The County could save some money if the Commissioner role was done away with.
As I have said before on here it’s high time backward Kent especially East Kent had it own major trauma centre magistrates courts and more police. The Tories like to boast they are the party of low taxation but that is only because they run public services into the ground. Let’s have a general election so we can get rid of Craig McKinley he like his leader lives in a world of smoke and mirrors that does absolutely nothing for East Kent.
Blimey in my days of crime shoplifting 51 years ago I was up in court the same day and all done very very quick like 3/4 weeks.