Serious Criminal Cases Backlog Debate

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Department: Ministry of Justice

Serious Criminal Cases Backlog

Baroness Mallalieu Excerpts
Tuesday 26th January 2021

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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My Lords, when looking at the criminal justice system, I agree that it is mistake just to think about courts, sentencing and prisons. One has to look at it in a broader and wider context. To that extent, the points that the right reverend Prelate makes are well made.

Baroness Mallalieu Portrait Baroness Mallalieu (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, there is clearly no quick fix for a backlog of this magnitude, but will the Government consider extending to other witnesses the existing provisions under Section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act? These currently enable vulnerable witnesses to record their evidence and be cross-examined away from the courtroom at an early stage before trial. That recording can be replayed later at trial, with the result that evidence is not forgotten and footfall at court is usually reduced when the case finally gets to trial.

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness raises an important point. This Government have taken a number of steps to ensure that vulnerable witnesses can give evidence in that way. Indeed, noble Lords will be aware of provisions that build on that in the Domestic Abuse Bill, which is going through Parliament at the moment. To take that point further would, I think, require more careful consideration, but I would be very happy to discuss that with the noble Baroness in due course.