Posted: Wed 22nd Feb 2023

Striking legal staff blamed for backlog of nearly 630 cases at Chester Crown Court

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Feb 22nd, 2023

Hundreds of cases are currently backed up at Chester Crown Court according to ministers, with the finger of blame being pointed at striking legal staff.

But a local opposition politician said the blame lay firmly with the government for closing 260 courts, including one in Cheshire.

Mike Freer, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, told the Commons there was a backlog of 626 cases at the court in Chester.

But he added that the government was ‘taking action’ to tackle the issue and improve waiting times.

He said: “We have introduced new legislation to give more flexibility for cases to be returned to the magistrates courts, we have ramped up judicial capacity, and we are investing a significant amount of funding for the criminal justice system.”

The minister had been responding to a question by Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury, who raised the issue of a closed court in the Runcorn part of his Weaver Vale constituency.

He said: “We are now witnessing a backlog of 60,000 crown court cases and 350,000 magistrates court cases, all as a direct result of political choices to close 260 courts, one of them in Runcorn in my constituency- it became a cannabis farm next to a police station before being burnt down.

“Does the minister actually believe that a four-year wait for victims to have their day in court is acceptable?”

But Mr Freer replied: “The honourable gentleman is right on one count: it is about political choices.

“If the opposition stopped backing strikers, there might not be the current case backlog in our criminal justice system, which is a direct result of action by the Criminal Bar Association.

“It is this government who are increasing the judiciary, who have settled the dispute and who are increasing court capacity, for instance by opening more Nightingale courts.

“We are taking the action; the opposition back the strikers.”

By Mrk Smith – Local Democracy Reporter

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