Victim Support Scotland warns MSPs that coronavirus is fast becoming a crisis in Scotland’s courts
The Scottish Parliament Justice Committee took evidence this morning on the challenges of restarting jury trials in Scotland’s courts.
A worrying backlog of cases is building up in courts across Scotland as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Victim Support Scotland Chief Executive Kate Wallace provided evidence, stating:
“Coronavirus is becoming a crisis in our courts as well as on our streets. Delays to trials look set to last until well into 2023 with the capacity of our courts cut by two-thirds.
“It is in the interests of victims and witnesses that they are not subjected to lengthy delays that we know are already having a devasting impact on their mental health. All options to addressing the backlog need to be made available, not just a selection.
“More consideration needs to be given to emergency measures to permit jury-less trials as a last resort. It is only through a combination of all the possible options, including the ‘three judge model’ that victims organisations have been advocating for, that we will begin to make any real inroads to the backlog.”
Victim Support Scotland previously submitted written evidence to the Justice Committee highlighting the 400% rise in safeguarding reports of victims and witnesses seeking support who were experiencing suicidal thoughts and mental health issues.