The Labour Party has called on the Government to take “emergency action” to restart the judicial process as trials are suspended during the Covid-19 outbreak. David Lammy, the Shadow Justice Secretary, also said that the Government should live-stream court cases both during the current outbreak, and in the longer-term.
Lammy said in a statement:
“There were already huge backlogs in court cases before the Covid-19 crisis began. If urgent decisions are not made now, the justice system will be at breaking point by the autumn. Many large courtrooms, university lecture halls, schools and leisure centres are currently sitting empty. The Ministry of Justice should co-opt these buildings if necessary to carry out socially distanced trials according to public health advice. Justice delayed must not be allowed to become justice denied.”
“Open justice is a fundamental right that underpins the justice system. As a result of restrictions on non-essential travel, it is currently not possible for most members of the public to attend court. To maintain public confidence in the justice system, with a few exceptions, all court cases should be streamed online.
Labour is calling for the live-streaming cases to become the norm during and after the covid-19 crisis because a more transparent system is a fairer system, which gives greater access to justice for us all. We know this is possible because proceedings at the Supreme Court can already be observed in this way. If it takes bold steps now, the government can not only get the justice system running again, it can make improvements that will improve the system for generations to come.”
The Government is expected to give further details about the judicial process next week, when guidelines are given about the processes that will be undertaken as the lockdown starts to be lifted.