Magistrates’ Criminal Courts 5-Point Plan

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The senior judiciary and HMCTS have developed a 5-point plan for the recovery of magistrates’ adult and youth courts dealing with criminal matters.

This plan requires the collective effort of all key Criminal Justice System (CJS) agencies and should yield significant and rapid benefits to all those in the CJS system, in particular victims, witnesses and defendants awaiting trial.

Our ambition is to safely restore court listing and timings to pre-pandemic levels at the earliest opportunity and at the latest by 31 December 2021, assuming the roadmap for lifting current restrictions remains on track. The five pillars of the plan are:

Improving on pre-Christmas listing and disposal rates from April 2021.
Benefits: Reducing waiting times for victims, witnesses and defendants and the burden on CJS agencies in the number of live outstanding case files kept under review.

Return to Transforming Summary Justice charging timings by July 2021.
Benefits: Transforming Summary Justice timescales 14/28 days provide optimum bailing patterns for case file preparation and constructive engagement to ensure effective first hearings.

Focus on trial activity to reduce trial waiting times through trial blitzes.
Benefits: Improving effective trial rates and reducing trial listing delays will help improve victim and witness confidence and attrition rates as well as reducing the strain on witness services.

Continue to maximise court capacity with flexible listing.
Benefits: Saturday courts assist in clearing the backlogs and freeing up court rooms to hear more serious offences and trials whilst using resources efficiently.

Magistrates return to normal arrangements by July 2021.
Benefits: Restoring normal arrangements, including benches of three, thus enabling more magistrates to resume sitting and assist with mentoring, appraisal and training programmes.

Lord Justice Haddon-Cave
Deputy Senior Presiding Judge