‘Important milestone’ as prisons, courts and victim services get £4bn funding boost

Almost £4.4 billion will be invested to increase court capacity, create prison places and support victims following the Chancellor’s Spending Review announcement yesterday (November 25).

Nov 26, 2020
By Paul Jacques
Robert Buckland

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the money will help build on steps already in place to deal with the “unprecedented challenges” caused by the pandemic.

Crucially, the MoJ said £337 million extra funding will support the Government’s crime agenda – delivering swift and effective justice to convict offenders, support victims and protect the wider public.

It added: “This includes £275 million to manage the impact of 20,000 additional police officers and reduce backlogs caused by the pandemic by increasing capacity in courts, particularly the Crown Court.

“The announcement is an important milestone in efforts to bring down outstanding cases, which have already seen the number of those being resolved in the Crown Court nearly treble since April.”

The funding comes on top of existing spending on courts, including £142 million for modernising buildings and improving technology, as well as £83 million committed in September to make the estate Covid-secure, support remote hearings, recruit 1,600 additional staff and create new Nightingale Courts – 16 of which are up and running.

An extra £4 billion will be provided over the next four years to make significant progress in delivering 18,000 additional prison places.

“This will create modern efficient jails, including four new prisons in the next six years, boosting the Government’s efforts to cut crime,” said the MoJ.

“Maintenance will also be carried out – with £315 million to enhance the condition of the existing prison estate and £105 million for improvements to courts.”

On top of £337 million for the criminal justice system, £76 million will further increase capacity in the Family Court and Employment Tribunal, giving families, businesses and employees confidence that their cases will continue to be dealt with effectively.

An additional £43 million will go towards measures to reduce Covid transmission in courts and prisons.

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said: “We are seeing positive signs thanks to our efforts to keep the justice system running, including a big increase in the number of jury trials.

“This funding will help us speed up justice in our courts and continue to deliver modern prison places that keep criminals off the streets and cut reoffending.”

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