England: Sites of 10 ‘Nightingale courts’ revealed
The UK government has named the 10 sites which will host so-called “Nightingale courts” to alleviate the pressure on courts and tribunals resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sites including Middlesbrough Town Hall, the Knights’ Chamber within the grounds of Peterborough Cathedral, and the Ministry of Justice’s headquarters in London.
Spanning England and Wales, the courts will hear civil, family and tribunals work as well as non-custodial crime cases. The move will free up room in existing courts to hear other cases, including custodial jury trials, which require cells and secure dock facilities to keep the public, victims and witnesses safe.
A court set up in East Pallant House, Chichester, is expected to begin hearing an expanded list of cases next week, with all 10 locations up and running in August.
The full list of confirmed sites is as follows:
- Former county court at Telford, Shropshire
- Hertfordshire Development Centre, Stevenage
- Swansea Council Chambers, Swansea
- Cloth Hall Court, Leeds
- Middlesbrough Town Hall, Teesside
- East Pallant House, Chichester
- 102 Petty France, London
- Prospero House, London
- Former magistrates’ court at Fleetwood, Lancashire
- Knights’ Chamber and Visitor Centre, Bishop’s Palace, Peterborough Cathedral
The Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC MP said: “Our action to keep the justice system running throughout the pandemic has been globally recognised, with these Nightingale courts being the latest step in this effort. They will help boost capacity across our courts and tribunals - reducing delays and delivering speedier justice for victims.
“But we won’t stop there. Together with the judiciary, courts staff and legal sector, I am determined that we must pursue every available option to ensure our courts recover as quickly as possible.”
Jury trials in England and Wales were resumed in May and 54 Crown Courts are hearing jury trials as of this week. Almost all courts have reopened to the public, with over 300 operating last week.
The Lord Chancellor is still considering further measures to help ease pressure on the courts system, including longer working hours and additional Nightingale court sites.