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Courts in crisis as backlog grows

Courts in crisis as backlog grows

The justice system is in crisis as the backlog of court cases grows at an alarming rate, says National's Law and Order spokesman, Tony Ryall.

New figures released by Mr Ryall show a record number of outstanding jury trials, criminal summary cases and youth court cases.

At March this year there were 34,595 court cases waiting to be heard around the country, an increase of 1,995 or 6% since March last year, by far the biggest year-to-year increase for at least four years. In the six months since October last year alone, the number of cases has increased by 2,004.

Mr Ryall says the number of cases waiting to be heard has increased by about 24% since Labour came into government. "This is a crisis situation," he says.

"The number of cases waiting to be heard is growing much faster than the increase in crime. Something is seriously wrong and this Government must take urgent steps to sort it out.

"As the number of cases waiting to be heard increases, the waiting times for defendants to have their cases heard get longer and longer and longer. These delays cause unnecessary anguish. They put victims in danger of violence and prevent defendants beginning their sentences, or clearing their names.

"The risk in some cases will be abandoned because of these queues and delays. "This Government is sitting on its hands while more and more cases are being added to the back of an ever-increasing queue. This mismanagement is denying justice to thousands of victims of crime," says Mr Ryall.

"We need more judges, better use of technology, improved case management practices and more resources for DNA and other testing services.

"We won't get these with a Government more intent on spending money on social engineering than on justice," says Mr Ryall.

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