Justice must be seen as a public service

Many of us will never have to set foot in a courtroom.

But justice is no less a public service than the NHS, police or welfare benefits.

Those accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty, and deserve a defence.

Equally, victims and witnesses of crime deserve a court system that supports them and delivers justice in a timely manner.

Soaring waiting times in courts across Norfolk are a serious threat to justice, as we report today.

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When cases are delayed for up to a year, it leaves victims in limbo. They have the torture of preparing to give evidence which the defence will attempt to tear holes in.

It is often a harrowing experience, and has been described as a second trauma.

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Their day in court could be undermined even further by delays.

Say you have been robbed at knifepoint. There was one eye witness, and they agree to come to court to tell a jury what they saw.

The longer they have to wait, the more their memory fades, and the easier it is for their account to be dismissed by the opposing barrister.

Not only that - the longer a defendant is kept in custody waiting for a trial, the more it costs the taxpayer.

Justice has to be seen to be done, and seen to be done properly.

It has been neglected and allowed to be cut to the bone because it is not seen as a public service.

And with courts being closed, fewer judges and fewer prosecutions, you have to question if we really do have the “world-leading justice system” the Ministry of Justice claims it is.

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