The Jury Trial Working Group, chaired by Mr Justice Edis, and including representatives from across the Criminal Justice System and legal professions, met yesterday to progress plans to restart jury trials as soon as appropriate arrangements are in place to ensure it is safe to do so.
A small number of Crown Courts which may be suitable because of their size or design have been identified for further assessment as potential venues in which to conduct the first jury trials, whilst adhering to social distancing and ensuring the health and safety of all court users.
It was recognised that this is the first step in assessing the viability of such a hearing during the COVID-19 pandemic. These courts will be assessed over the course of the next week with support from colleagues from Public Health England and Public Health Wales, with a view to determining whether jury trials will be possible, and the result of these assessments will be reported back to the group at its next meeting next week.
Working Group members have also been tasked with assessing the readiness of all criminal justice agencies and partners to support jury trials at these locations. This work remains a top priority for HMCTS and the judiciary, working closely with wider partners.
The Lord Chief Justice will make his final decision to restart jury trials when he is confident that the system as a whole is ready. This will include HMCTS, the professions, those supporting victims and witnesses, and jurors who should have confidence that trials are able to operate effectively within social distancing guidelines. The Lord Chief Justice is also in close discussion with the Lord Chancellor about this whole system approach to ensure the interests of justice can be served.