Olympics cases to be fast-tracked
Measures to speed up criminal cases with night and weekend courts will be outlined in a white paper due to be published tomorrow by the Ministry of Justice.
The changes build on measures adopted to cope with the high number of people arrested during last summer’s riots. As well as opening courts at nights and during the weekend, the justice white paper will propose magistrates sitting in police stations or community centres to hear some cases, and defendants appearing from prison by video-link.
The government has already said that cases linked to the Olympic Games will be fast-tracked through the criminal justice system, with extended court opening hours and prosecutors on call 24 hours a day.
Fast-tracked cases will be listed for trial in as little as seven days in the magistrates’ courts, with cases heard within eight days in the Crown court where defendants are on bail and 14 days where they are in custody.
The Legal Services Commission last week published its procedures for dealing with legal aid applications for those cases designated as ‘Olympic fast-track cases’. Such applications will be prioritised by the LSC’s national courts teams, with ‘relaxed’ evidence and signature requirements.