A higher court advocate has decried the 'gross under-funding' of the criminal justice system after concern was raised yesterday regarding the listing of 26 cases at 09:45 in the same court room at Aylesbury Crown Court.
The alarm was raised by Alejandra Llorente Tascon, a barrister from London, when she tweeted:
“26 cases listed in Court 1 for 09:45am at Aylesbury Crown Court. As announced by the resident judge, everything is in his court (the only open court room) due to a shortage of sitting days. What a start to 2020...”
Ian Kelcey, a solicitor, higher court advocate and co-chair of the Law Society's criminal law committee, told The Bucks Herald:
“There is a consequence for defendants and it's not entirely fair.
"It is an example of the gross under-funding of the criminal justice system, and that goes across the investigation, across the prosecution, across the defence and across the court service.
"The consequence for the defendants is that they have to wait far longer at court to have their case dealt with and if you're loaded with 26 cases in one day, well there is a limit to how much any Judge can deal with in an efficient way.
Since 2010, 295 courts across England and Wales have closed as part of the Government's austerity drive, significantly reducing their sitting hours.
We inquired at Aylesbury Crown Court about the listing for the day. They said:
“At the minute we've only got one judge and he's taking an eight week trial and that's going to go over to High Wycombe.”
When we asked how 26 cases could all be tried at the same time, in the same court room, by the same Judge, we were told:
“The Judge will take them one by one. Whoever's ready.”
Allowing an hour for lunch, we calculate the listing equates to approximately 10 minutes per case.
The Law Society is an independent professional body for solicitors who, among other things, exist to protect everyone's right to have access to justice.
Co-chair of their criminal law committee, Mr Kelcey, concluded:
"Politicians have got to wake up and smell the coffee because until they do our criminal justice system will continue to deteriorate."