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Extra courts operating across Scotland as part of Covid recovery scheme to clear backlogs

Extra courts are operating across Scotland, and remote jury centres like the one at Vue Cinema in Aberdeen will continue to be used.
Extra courts are operating across Scotland, and remote jury centres like the one at Vue Cinema in Aberdeen will continue to be used.

Extra courts have started operating around the country as part of a Covid recovery programme in a bid to clear the backlog of cases.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) Courts Recovery Programme includes the expansion of remote jury centres and a daily increase of 16 extra courts.

One of the aims of the Recover, Renew, Transform programme is to return the justice system to pre-pandemic capacity.

Four additional high courts, two more sheriff solemn courts and up to 10 sheriff summary courts are in place as part of the new capacity.

The trial courts which need juries will be linked to remote jury centres, like the one at Vue Cinema in Aberdeen.

It comes after concerns were raised over the scale of the challenge to clear the backlog of cases caused by the Covid crisis.

Figures had revealed a drastic drop in trials calling across the north and north-east, including Aberdeen and Inverness Sheriff Courts

Where are the extra courts?

The high court will sit in:

  • Inverness
  • Dundee
  • Airdrie
  • Stirling

The additional sheriff solemn courts are in:

  •  Dumfries
  • Dunfermline.

The 10 additional Sheriff Summary courts will be at varying locations across Scotland, based on the level of cases and safe court capacity.

There will be at least one additional court in each of the six sheriffdoms in Scotland.

One metre social distancing was introduced in court buildings last month.

The SCTS  said the move means every sheriff court will now have the capacity to hold two-accused trials with work to expand this further in the coming weeks taking place.

Social distancing measures at Aberdeen Sheriff Court earlier this year.

Safety in courts and jury centres ‘top priority’

Eric McQueen, chief executive, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service said: “Our attention is focussed on creating a safe environment to tackle the backlogs across courts which impact on complainers, witnesses and the accused.

“We have moved quickly to introduce these additional courts as part of the recovery programme and this has been made possible by continued collaboration across the whole justice system.

“We are progressing while still recognising the need to keep our buildings as safe as possible for all to use. At all times safety for everyone in our courts and remote jury centres will remain our top priority.

“We will continue to maintain a careful, cautious and sensible approach in all that we do to maintain both safety and throughput of business.”

As well as the 16 extra courts, new facilities have been prepared to allow more multi-accused high court trials to be heard.

Courts in Saltmarket Glasgow and Lawnmarket Edinburgh have been refitted to host multi-accused trials of up to nine people in Covid-compliant surroundings.

Extra staff recruited to meet demand

Staff have been recruited across the country to allow the programme to be put into effect.

There has also been an increase in part-time judicial resources to meet the increased demand.

Eight new temporary judges have been appointed to preside over high court trials.

There is also a recruitment taking place for 15 new part-time sheriffs and 15 new part-time summary sheriffs.

 

 

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