Much has been made of the backlog of court cases - including landlords’ possession attempts - and now the Ministry of Justice has revealed eight more temporary courts will begin hearing cases from next week.
The Lowry Theatre in Salford, Jury’s Inn Middlesbrough, and the Hilton Hotel in York will begin hearing cases from Monday. The remaining five are to be located in Chester, Liverpool, Bristol, Winchester and Cirencester, and will open in the coming weeks.
In total they will deliver 16 extra courtrooms.
The Nightingale Courts will hear non-custodial crime cases as well as civil, family and tribunals work - including possession cases.
The move will free up more 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.
It brings the total number of Nightingales to 17, providing 32 court rooms, set up across England and Wales to alleviate the pressure on courts and tribunals resulting from the pandemic.
An initial 10 opened their doors in the summer and are currently running at roughly 80 per cent capacity – according to the government this is higher than the average of comparable courts in more usual times.
Since August 1, magistrates’ courts have heard 1,000 extra cases through additional Saturday sittings.
Liverpool, Hull, Stafford and Snaresbrook Crown Courts are already piloting temporary ‘COVID operating hours’, with other crown courts to follow next week.