Local Theatre in Salford to become Nightingale Court to help deal with a 46,476 case backlog
Similar to the pop-up “Nightingale Hospitals” which have been set up around the country to assist the NHS with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, from Monday 28 September 2020, The Lowry Theatre in Salford will be transformed into a “Nightingale Court”, where it will be repurposed by the Ministry of Justice to deal with what have been described as “corrosive” delays in the court system by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Four court rooms will be operating at the theatre from next week as the Ministry of Justice faces the mammoth task of dealing with a backlog of 46,467 crown court cases.
The theatre will only host cases involving defendants who are assessed as not being a flight risk and accused of less serious crimes. Defendants will sit at the back of the theatre in what would ordinarily be the sound booth, while judges will appear on the stage. Adhering to social distancing measures, jurors will each be allocated a theatre box, normally designed for six, giving them the best view in the house.
The transformation of The Lowry by the Ministry of Justice has come as a lifeline for the struggling theatre, having lost around 95% of its usual £22m annual income due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst the theatre hasn’t revealed the figures behind the agreement with the Ministry of Justice, Julia Fawcett, the Lowry’s chief executive, described it as a “significant” sum but “not even remotely enough” to cover the theatre’s losses.
Similar plans to open further Nightingale Courts are in place for locations in Chester, Liverpool, Bristol, Winchester and Cirencester, while two further courts will open next week at the Hilton Hotel in York, which will hear family cases, and the Jurys Inn in Middlesbrough, which will hear both civil and family cases.
The total number of Nightingale Courts is now 17 across the country, with a total of 32 court rooms. It would seem the Ministry of Justice’s efforts cannot come soon enough, with the number of Crown Prosecution Service cases jumping by 75% since February from 101,000 to 180,000 in September.
Family law courts are also suffering from backlogs. If you need advice in relation to your divorce, children or family law matter please call Maguire Family Law.