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McArthur warns of "justice in the slow lane" as 50,000 cases take over a year

January 31, 2021 12:00 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today warned that delivering justice is taking far too long as he revealed figures showing that 53,158 cases took more than 12 months to go from caution or charge to verdict in the years leading up to the outbreak of the pandemic.

Correspondence between Mr McArthur and the Scottish Government also revealed that 50,311 cases breached the 26-week caution/charge to verdict target in the year before the pandemic struck - around one in three cases.

Commenting on the figures, Mr McArthur said:

"The pandemic has had an enormous disruptive impact on our court system. But this is much worse than it needed to be because a backlog was building for years before the pandemic struck. Justice was already in the slow lane.

"These lengthy delays deny victims their day in court and the chance to achieve some semblance of closure. Memories get hazier, victims lose faith and it becomes harder and harder to ensure that justice is done.

"It also means our courts are under severe pressure and there are worrying numbers of people who haven't been convicted spending long periods in prison awaiting trial.

"It shows why we need a Scottish Government that will put recovery first, with a needle-sharp focus on getting the job done so victims aren't further traumatised by systematic delays."