Serious Criminal Cases Backlog Debate

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Department: Ministry of Justice

Serious Criminal Cases Backlog

Lord Woolf 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, the MoJ has invested record amounts. There was an investment of £142 million to improve courts, tribunals, buildings and technology. That was, in fact, the single biggest investment in court estate maintenance for more than 20 years. Of course we will build on that, but it would be fair to say that everybody is doing their best in extremely challenging circumstances.

Lord Woolf Portrait Lord Woolf (CB) [V]
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My Lords, any backlog in the criminal justice system is worrying because it results in delays, and delays breed delays and result in injustice. They must not be allowed to fester because of the damage they can do to the justice system as a whole. This backlog is especially worrying because of its scale, its subject matter and because it is no doubt substantially due to Covid. What is required is a concerted effort to tackle the backlog and stop it festering and growing further out of control. There needs to be a plan to which all the criminal justice agencies sign up, including the Government, the judiciary and prosecution and defence lawyers, properly resourced to tackle the backlog as a matter of urgency. The Minister seems to suggest that there is such a plan. If so, when does he expect to see an improvement in the current situation and how is the plan being implemented?

Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Portrait Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Con)
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My Lords, there is such a plan. I refer the noble and learned Lord to the answer I gave a few moments ago about the crime recovery plan that we set out in September last year. He is certainly correct: there is an old adage that justice delayed is justice denied. We are working very hard to make sure that there are no greater delays than those necessarily caused by the circumstances in which we are living.