It is among 14 temporary Nightingale courts being set up in hotels, theatres and conference centres to help slash delays and deliver justice for victims. The super venue will be created at Manchester Crown Court to deal with so-called multi-hander trials such as gang murder cases. Those type of cases require more space because they involve multiple defendants being tried at the same time.
In a similar principle to Nightingale hospitals set up to avoid overwhelming the NHS with Covid cases, other temporary courts will include The Barbican in central London, Maple House, Birmingham. Others are being created in Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Croydon and Chichester.
The move, announced yesterday, comes as it emerged the crown court backlog has hit a record 56,000 cases. Some are now being put back to 2023.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said the Government had “achieved an immense amount in our battle to keep justice moving during the pandemic”.
He said efforts included restarting trials, turbocharging the rollout of video technology, bringing magistrates’ backlog down, and opening more courtrooms to allow jury trials to go ahead.
Mr Buckland added: “These new courts are the latest step in that effort and I am determined to minimise delays and ensure justice is served for victims, defendants and the public.
“We are investing hundreds of millions to drive this recovery further, deliver swifter justice and support victims.”
The number of crown cases resolved reached pre-pandemic levels in December and more courtrooms for jury trials are now open than before the pandemic. More than 20,000 hearings using remote technology are taking place each week compared with around 500 last March – a 4,000 per cent rise.
Events organiser CCT Venues is providing space for two Nightingale courtrooms at its Barbican location.
Chief executive Caroline Bull said: “Although the majority of our traditional business is corporate meetings and events, this has been severely curtailed. So supporting this important project has created a win-win situation.”
She added: “This contract is great for the morale of our team and frankly, also for saving jobs.
“Contributing to such worthwhile projects helps us to feel connected and valuable at a time when many are not so fortunate.”