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Police boss voices concerns Staffordshire victims being let down by the system post-lockdown

The Staffordshire Commissioner and his deputy are calling on the criminal justice system to spell out its plans for recovery.

It comes after lockdown has led to huge backlogs and thousands of victims waiting for justice.

Matthew Ellis says he has real concerns about the huge impact Covid-19 has had on the justice system in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and wants a clear strategy and timeline to deal with the backlog of cases.

His deputy, Sue Arnold, leads on the victims’ agenda and is equally concerned about the impact on victims directly, many of whom fear they’ll never see justice done.

Mr Ellis said: "I’m very concerned about how the system is going to catch up and get back to some kind of normality.

!Earlier this week temporary ‘Nightingale Courts’ were announced at ten locations across the country to help tackle the huge backlogs, but Staffordshire wasn’t one of them, which is very disappointing.

"I want to be clear on what is being done in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to get back on track as quickly as possible.

"This can’t be done in a vacuum; agencies need to work together to help resolve this situation as soon as possible, before it gets out of control."

Mrs Arnold said the last thing victims need is months more of uncertainty about what is happening with their cases.

"Victims have already suffered enough and even in normal circumstances the wait for their cases to be dealt with in the courts can put a huge strain on them and their families.

"There’s a real risk many of these cases might just fall apart if victims can’t face waiting months more for justice to be done.

"We’re asking a lot of them and I want to ensure everything is being done in Staffordshire to help them through this uncertainty, keep them informed and give them support. 

"It’s not acceptable for victims to be forgotten about and left in the dark - there needs to be action and it needs to happen quickly," said Mrs Arnold.

Latest figures show a 37 per cent increase in outstanding magistrates’ cases across Staffordshire during the lockdown period.

The reopening of the one available magistrates’ court within Staffordshire will hopefully start to ease the situation.

Various ideas have been put forward in other areas of the country, including courts sitting at weekends and outside normal hours to clear the backlog.

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