In Parliament yesterday, Black Country MP John Spellar accused the Government of complacency in dealing with the backlog of crime cases and urged Ministers to “get a grip”.
He said that “much of the backlog was actually caused by massive cuts by the Conservative Government” – including the closure of Warley Magistrates Court – and that this was “was a huge error”.
As a result, serious criminal cases “are taking years to get to court” and there are big delays in dealing with local hooligans who are blighting the lives of communities – impacting both the availability and willingness of witnesses to testify.
The Minister is being remarkably complacent, because he must know that much of the backlog was actually caused by massive cuts by the Conservative Government. That was a huge error, impacting not only on very serious criminal cases in the Crown court, but on dealing with the petty crime and antisocial behaviour that is blighting our communities. He also knows that cases are taking years to get to court, with the impact that that has on the availability or willingness of witnesses. When he will he stop putting out this complacent line and get a grip of the problem?
The right hon. Gentleman talks about the situation prior to coronavirus. The outstanding case load in the Crown court prior to coronavirus was 39,000 cases—low by historical standards and substantially lower than the 47,000 cases left behind by the last Labour Government. Moreover, under this Government, crime, as reported by the crime survey, has dropped by 41%. There is no complacency. A quarter of a billion pounds has been spent, 1,600 extra staff have been hired and 23,000 extra police are being recruited. There is no complacency here.