Nottinghamshire police and crime commissioner wants new county criminal justice board to tackle courts backlog

Nottinghamshire’s crime commissioner wants to set up a county-specific criminal justice board to help manage a backlog in the county’s court system.

By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 10th September 2021, 8:11 pm

Caroline Henry told members of the Nottinghamshire police and crime panel the current criminal justice assurance board is done on a regional basis.

But Mrs Henry, Nottinghamshire police and crime commissioner, told the panel she wishes to bring this closer to Nottinghamshire.

This will allow, she says, for a better understanding of the current backlog and opportunities for improvement.

Caroline Henry, Nottinghamshire police and crime commissioner.

The panel was told the existing backlog is causing issues of witness and victim management, leading to more difficult prosecutions for the police and Crown Prosecution Service.

This burden was eased partly by increased capacity in April this year, including at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court.

It followed the opening of a ‘Nightingale’ temporary court in March at a Nottingham hotel, to address further backlogs in the system.

Mrs Henry told the meeting a ‘trial blitz’ is also planned for November to tackle an issue she says had been increasing before the pandemic.

Mansfield Magistrates' Court, Rosemary Street, Mansfield.

Speaking on the new assurance board, she said: “This will help me and you to gain a better understanding of our local issues, challenges and performance.

“I’m also looking for opportunities to get involved with multi-agency court observation sessions, to help develop a better understanding of areas for improvement.”

She said it will allow board members and Mrs Henry to ‘hold the the CPS to account, calling for more transparency on the latest with the backlog’.

Mrs Henry said: “At the moment I can have conversations [with the CPS] but I can’t hold them to account.”

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‘National issue’

She said commissioners across the country were pushing for an end to the backlog of court hearings, particularly in the family court.

Mrs Henry said: “I had a meeting earlier this week with police and crime commissioner colleagues, it is such a national issue, and we’re all pushing [for an end to the backlog].”

Mrs Henry requested one member of the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Panel should be represented on the new board, if it is created.

This matter will be taken for discussion at a later date.

More detail on Mrs Henry’s plans for the criminal justice board, and plans to address the backlog, are expected in her Police and Crime Plan in November.