BBC Radio Sussex

Government announces Chichester Crown Court to remain open at least until the end of 2023

23 February 2023

Edward Cooke spoke this morning on BBC Radio Sussex with Allison Ferns, as part of a discussion about the Chichester Crown Court, with the recent announcement from Government that the court will remain open at least until the end of 2023.

Edward gave the background to the challenges with access to criminal and family justice in Chichester, with the Government having closed the Chichester Crown Court in 2018 as part of a drive to close around 90 courts across the country. Edward led the campaign against the closure in Chichester and the court was successfully reopened as a Nightingale Court in 2021 in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Access to justice across the country has been severely hampered by court closures, lack of court buildings and a lack of judges, with the backlog of cases in the Crown Court ballooning from 15,000 10 years ago, to around 60,000 cases now.

In criminal court, this creates an unacceptable delay to victims and their families, as well as the accused. In family courts, it can sometimes take up to 12 months or more for cases to be heard and even then they are often disrupted, with plenty of examples of cases being pulled the day before. This all has a devastating impact on all those involved, delaying justice and the ability for people to start to rebuild their lives.

The government has not given any indication of what will happen to court provision in Chichester and elsewhere beyond the end of this year, but this continued level of delay is simply unacceptable and the time has come for the Government to recognise that this court needs to be reinstated for good.

Listen to the interview in full from 1 hour 40 minutes into the show recording below.