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Warwick hotel doubles up as court house to help clear case backlog

A WARWICK hotel is to become a temporary crown court to help clear a backlog of criminal cases.

The government has announced that the conference room at the Delta hotel will have two court rooms that will start hearing jury trials involving burglary and drug offences this month.

The hotel was recently bought by the Marriott group from Hilton and trades under the name 'M40J15 Warwick Hotel'.

The hotel, which is close to the M40, is the seventh Nightingale court to be opened in the Midlands as the government tries to deal with the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic.

The Herald understands that the backlog for Warwick Crown Court, which handles some of the cases for Warwickshire and Coventry, is about 677 – almost double the pre-Covid figure.

Some defendants are having their cases adjourned for trial until November next year, with earlier dates being given to those who have been remanded in custody.

Warwick hotel doubles up as court house (52876342)
Warwick hotel doubles up as court house (52876342)

The situation is similar around the country – by the end of June, government figures indicated there were record highs of nearly 61,000 outstanding crown court cases and more than 364,000 in magistrates’ courts.

The National Audit Office said in a report that between March 2020 and June 2021, crown court cases older than a year had increased from 2,830 to 11,379 (302 per cent increase), and from 246 to 1,316 (435 per cent increase) for rape and sexual assault cases.

Head of the NAO Gareth Davies said: “Despite efforts to increase capacity in criminal courts, it looks likely that the backlog will remain a problem for many years. The impact on victims, witnesses and defendants is severe and it is vital that the Ministry of Justice works effectively with its partners in the criminal justice system to minimise the delays to justice.”

The Ministry of Justice increased crown court capacity by 30 per cent between September 2020 and July 2021 by opening temporary Nightingale courts and modifying existing buildings.

The Warwick Nightingale court will add further to the capacity and will use technology to allow people to appear remotely by video, where appropriate, to avoid delays.

Courts minister, James Cartlidge MP, said: “The new Warwick Nightingale court will provide vital additional courtrooms to give people in the Midlands faster access to justice.

“We have already pumped £14 million into temporary courts across the country to increase capacity and will continue to help the criminal justice system recover from the pandemic, deliver swifter justice and support victims.”

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