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Covid: Scottish courts backlog ‘could last 10 years’
Covid: Scottish courts backlog ‘could last 10 years’ avatar

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Scottish courts could take up to a decade to return to normal after Covid, a Holyrood committee has warned.

The Scottish Parliament's justice committee said "unpalatable" steps were needed to address the lengthy delays in the criminal justice system.

MSPs have been looking at the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the courts.

Committee convener Adam Tomkins described the current level of delays faced by those involved in criminal cases as "not acceptable".

Mr Tomkins said: "The scale of the challenge faced by our courts is not to be underestimated. Current delays are not acceptable for the victims, witnesses or those accused of crimes.

"While that point may not be controversial, we need to ensure changes to improve the situation, whether long or short term, have the widest possible backing.

"To that end, we want the Scottish government to convene a meeting of all interested parties to agree a way forward. Time is of the essence."

Cinema juries

The committee's report praised the use of remote jury centres based in cinemas and said more digital technology was needed.

It also recommended the consideration of extending court sitting hours and sentencing discounts for those pleading guilty at an early stage on criminal proceedings.

But it came out against the idea of holding trials without juries in serious criminal cases.

Mr Tomkins added: "Although the problems are at their worst in the criminal courts, there is still a mismatch in our civil courts, which are largely functioning, and other services linked to them, such as family contact centres, which are at best partially open."

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