Pandemic court delays mean hundreds of accused killers and rapists dodge prison

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Victims of serious crimes have been denied justice by courts shutting in lockdown.

Latest Ministry of Justice data shows as of March 31, a week into lockdown, there were 430 murder cases, 3,070 of rape and 2,424 of robbery waiting to be dealt with in the crown and magistrates’ courts of England and Wales.

Labour said the scale of the backlog was “wholly avoidable”.

Shadow Justice Minister Peter Kyle blamed under investment as well as Covid and said: “Thousands of victims of violent sexual crimes and murder are being denied the swift justice they deserve.

“Delays like this make the suffering of ­victims worse and can lead to ­difficulties with prosecution.”

Some jury trials resumed in May but last month Justice Secretary Robert Buckland warned clearing the backlog – 480,000 cases in magistrates’ court and 41,000 in crown court – may take until next year.

Tory chairman of the Justice Select Committee, Sir Bob Neill, called for extra Government ­money to get the figures down.

He said the backlog “is unfair both upon defendants, especially those remanded in custody, and witnesses waiting to give evidence about very traumatic events.”

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