The Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro has written to the Ministry of Justice to highlight concerns over the pressure caused by delays to court hearings held in Surrey.
The PCC says delays are having a significant impact on vulnerable victims and witnesses, as well as on the partner agencies involved in bringing cases to trial.
Examples include victims who may be deemed as high risk of harm involved in long running cases, and defendants continuing to be detained in custody between delayed hearings. In some instances, at the conclusion of their trial, young people may be over 18 years old and therefore sentenced as an adult.
In October 2019, cases had taken an average of seven to eight months to reach trial from preparation stage, compared to between three and eight months in 2018. Allocation of ‘sitting days’ has significantly reduced in the South-East Region; Guildford Crown Court alone has been required to make 300 days’ worth of savings.
PCC David Munro said: “Experiencing this delay can have a significant impact on vulnerable victims and witnesses, as well defendants. I have invested significantly in support for victims, including the creation of a new unit within Surrey Police, which works hard to not only help victims cope and recover, but also to maintain their confidence and engagement in the criminal justice system.
“Surrey Police performance for civilian witness attendance is currently 9th in the country and above the national average.