York hotel to be transformed into a makeshift court to help clear backlog of criminal cases

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire
21 Sep 2020 @ 6.40 pm
| News

A York hotel will be transformed into makeshift court to help clear the backlog of cases exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hilton Hotel in York is one of the latest buildings to become a Nightingale court, opening on September 28, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.

It comes as the director of public prosecutions Max Hill warned delays in cases coming to court are “corrosive” as they force victims to wait for justice.

He suggested carrying out more remote hearings could be part of the answer to tackling the growing backlog as it emerged some courts are currently listing trials for 2023.

Courts in England and Wales are grappling with a waiting list of around half a million cases after courts being forced to shut during lockdown added to existing delays.

The hotel in York will also hear family cases.

Along with the conversion of the Lowry in Salford and Jury’s Inn in Middlesbrough, it brings the total number of Nightingale courts to 17, providing 32 court rooms, the MoJ said, with the existing sites operating at 80% capacity – which is higher than the average court prior to the pandemic.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland hailed the “important step” in the recovery plan but added: “We must keep going if we are to get our courts back up to speed.”

Magistrates’ courts are now dealing with some 21,000 cases a week while crown courts are clearing more than 1,700 cases at the same time and holding more than 100 jury trials.