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Coronavirus: Court plan will not ease delays, lawyers warn

Hundreds of thousands of people may wait until 2022 for justice despite a government announcement to speed up work in the Crown Courts, lawyers warn.

Ministers unveiled measures - including holding suspects for longer in England and Wales - in an attempt to manage pressure on courts amid the pandemic.

But critics say delays in criminal courts are entirely of the government's making and pre-date coronavirus.

More than 9,000 trials have been put back since the UK went into lockdown.

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On Sunday, the Ministry of Justice announced that it wants Parliament to pass temporary legislation to extend the time that defendants can be held in custody in England and Wales while awaiting trial.

The law is one of the most important wheels of the criminal justice machine because it ensures that justice is as swift as possible for both suspects and victims.

At present, defendants can only be held for 182 days after their first appearance in court, before there has to be an application to a judge to keep them inside for longer.

Under the government's proposal, from the end of this month that will be two months longer.

In practice, this decision builds more time into the court system - and it is part of a package of measures to manage the impact of coronavirus on the courts.

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