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Gloucestershire Business News

Cirencester court heading into session to clear backlog

Cirencester Courthouse will hear its first cases on Monday after being reopened in an attempt to ease the backlog created by the coronavirus pandemic.

The court, which closed in 2012, will hear a series of appeals head of its first scheduled trial in two weeks.

It is reopening nine months after Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl, who bought the site alongside the town's police station, offered it to HM Courts and Tribunal Service.

There are more than 1,300 criminal cases waiting to be heard in Gloucestershire - more than double the amount at the start of the pandemic - with the national waiting list estimated to have exceeded half a million.

Mr. Surl, who chairs Gloucestershire's Criminal Justice Board, said: "Reaching an agreement with the Ministry took much longer than I would have wanted but the important thing is that the building is ready to start functioning as a court again.

"I have talked about the threat to local justice many times. Covid has merely highlighted the deficiencies of our two remaining courts and brought them into even sharper focus."

He continued: "As a listed building, Gloucester Crown Court is outdated. Like Cheltenham Magistrates' Court, it is inaccessible to people with disabilities and both contravene current legislation.

"Waiting lists have now reached a new high and according to worst-case scenarios, it could be at least 2022 before they catch up.

"Getting Cirencester open again, however, is good news for the hundreds of victims, witnesses and defendants who have had a case hanging over them for far too long."

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