By Kelly Dixon
Recently the Lord Chancellor, The Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP, has announced the
opening of several ‘nightingale’ courts. These are currently in the process of opening across the UK to facilitate civil, family, non-custodial crime cases and tribunals. This will alleviate some of the pressure that is being put on our justice system and allow for different types of cases to be held safely in our current courts.
There are currently 10 sites that are confirmed with two currently open and operational;
one in Chichester and the other in London.
The 10 sites confirmed currently are:
Former county court at Telford, Shropshire
Hertfordshire Development Centre, Stevenage
Swansea Council Chambers, Swansea
Cloth Hall Court, Leeds
Middlesbrough Town Hall, Teesside
East Pallant House, Chichester
102 Petty France, London
Prospero House, London
Former magistrates’ court at Fleetwood, Lancashire
Knights’ Chamber and Visitor Centre, Bishop’s Palace, Peterborough Cathedral
The Lord Chancellor has said that “[the nightingale courts] will help boost capacity across our courts and tribunals – reducing delays and delivering speedier justice for victims”. All of this is to support our justice system but also to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the judicial process. Now that nightingale courts are being used, it means that there are more opportunities for trials by jury to take place with social distancing measures put in place.
The government has also put in place guidelines for if you do need to go into court for any reason. The gov.uk website advises you on what to expect if you are to go into a court, and offers a guide to help anyone prepare for their visit.
The nightingale courts have been met with a lot of positivity and are helping the justice
system to cope during the epidemic. Although, the introduction of nightingale courts is not the only thing the courts have done to provide a better and more safe service throughout the epidemic.
£142million is to be invested into the courts to assist in the technological improvements and to modernise the courtrooms. The technological improvements are going to have the biggest impact, with new video technology having been used in 90% of hearings since the outbreak.
The outbreak has meant that some outdated court room procedures have been updated and invested in. This could be the start of a more modern court room world. It has proved effective so far, and hopefully that will continue to be the case in the future.