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New stats show almost 300 high court trials beamed from remote jury centres
Supplied/SCTS
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New stats show almost 300 high court trials beamed from remote jury centres 

Almost 300 high court trials have been beamed to remote jury centres located around Scotland since they were established in response to Covid-19 last year, new figures have shown.

Data released by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service has revealed that 278 proceedings have been carried out via a live virtual link, set up to process a backlog of cases during the height of the pandemic.

Ten centres including Odeon cinemas in Glasgow’s Braehead and Fort Kinnaird were set up last year to offer jurors a safe way of viewing proceedings on giant screens, substituting for High Court buildings.

According to the figures released by SCTS, there were 36 ‘trials called where ‘evidence was led’ in quarter two of 2020, 106 in quarter three and 136 in quarter four.

The ‘Monthly Information on Criminal Case Throughput for July 2021’ figures showed a breakdown of cases heard at the High Court, Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Courts.

The data indicated that the overall level of new cases registered is 77 per cent of the average monthly pre-Covid level.

And petitions, which provide a useful indicator of future ‘solemn business’ – serious cases – are 21 per cent higher than the average monthly pre-Covid level.

The figures further showed that 48 High Court evidence led trials commenced, which is 14 per cent higher than the average pre-pandemic level.

David Fraser, SCTS Executive Director Court Operations said: “Our court buildings continue to operate in accordance with guidance from Public Health Scotland to safeguard our staff, judiciary and court users.

“Jury trials in the High Court and Sheriff Courts are running at pre-Covid capacity following the successful introduction of remote jury centres.

“Having restarted Justice of the Peace Courts trials on 7 June, we have already reached 119% of pre-Covid levels and Summary throughput at the Sheriff Courts also shows a return to 93% of pre-Covid levels.

“The excellent collaboration across the judiciary, justice organisations, the legal profession and the third sector has helped get court business back on track and this remains crucial in planning for the recovery programme commencing in September.

“We will continue to publish these figures on a monthly basis to illustrate the progress we are making and the challenges still being faced.” 

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