Fast-track procedures to deal with offences committed during the Olympics were today declared a success by the government, even though the Ministry of Justice revealed that they were used in fewer than 100 cases.
Since the procedures came into force on 1 July, 84 cases have been listed at London magistrates’ courts. Of those, 36 have already been dealt with by the magistrates’ courts and 28 cases have been sent or committed to the Crown court.
All the Crown court cases had an effective preliminary hearing within eight days of being sent and 10 of the cases were disposed of at this stage. There remain 20 cases at the magistrates’ courts and 18 cases at the Crown courts. An ‘Olympic crime’ is defined as ‘any crime that had or may have had an impact upon the effective delivery or image of the Games’.
The fast-track procedures are available to be used for offences committed and charged between 1 July and 30 September 2012, that are stated by the court to be ‘directly connected’ to the 2012 Olympic or Paralympic Games. This would include offences committed on any Olympic site or training facility, or where the complainant or defendant is connected with the Games as a spectator, competitor, official, a member of a national Olympic team in any capacity, or is attending the Games as an accredited representative of a media organisation.
The offences recorded included ticket touting, using false documents for identification purposes, theft, burglary and public order matters.
Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said that Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service had acted ‘efficiently and effectively’ to bring Olympic crimes to justice and that all courts and tribunals across London operated as planned.
He said: ‘I am impressed by the dedication and commitment of the courts in dealing efficiently with these cases. It was another example, following the summer disturbances last year, of how flexible and effective the criminal justice system can be.’
He added: ‘In future we plan to continue this efficiency drive by rolling out digital working across the system, removing unnecessary bureaucracy and maximising the use of video technology to allow more cases to be heard without delay.’
Malcolm Duxbury, a criminal solicitor and member of one of the Olympic planning committees said: ‘At the start we didn’t know how many cases we would be dealing with as there were no statistics from other games.
‘It was important to have contingency plans, but fortunately it appears that there were relatively low levels of cases.’