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Courts: Canterbury

Volume 493: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many cases have been awaiting trial in Canterbury Crown Court for (a) more than six months and (b) more than 12 months; (277338)

(2) what steps his Department is taking to reduce the length of time taken to bring cases to trial in (a) crown courts and (b) Canterbury Crown Court.

The number of cases awaiting trial in Canterbury Crown court as at 30 April 2009 were:

(a) 66 more than six and less than 12 months; and

(b) 18 more than 12 months; out of a total of 349 outstanding trial cases.

Canterbury Crown court have introduced a number of initiatives to reduce the length of time a case can take to come to trial but there are other factors which influence the speed at which cases commence such as preparedness of the prosecuting agency or defence, and the availability of witnesses.

Last year, HMCS timeliness improved significantly from 77.6 per cent. of cases dealt with within target in 2007-08 to 79.7 per cent. of cases dealt with within target in 2008-09. Nationally HMCS are committed to further improving Crown court timeliness and are working closely with the senior judiciary to improve case management, improve timeliness and reduce the number of hearings. There have already been local and national improvements. Additionally more sitting days have been allocated for 2009-10 than in previous years.