Questions raised after delays to court cases

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CONCERNS have been raised over a backlog of court hearings after Chichester Magistrates Court cut back its criminal court sessions to two days a week.

Many Chichester, Bognor Regis and Midhurst cases now go to Worthing Magistrates’ Court – and cases are now taking more than six months to reach trial dates.

Solicitors have voiced a range of issues which they believe could affect the delivery of justice.

This includes witnesses and defendants suffering anxiety over having to wait nearly twice as long for their hearings.

Further hold-ups to cases were also caused by flooding at the court.

It forced the closure of the building and resulted in more than a week’s court time being lost.

Stephen Hollamby, senior partner at Bennett Griffin solicitors, said: ‘Everyone is affected by delays to court hearings and it can impact on whether someone is found guilty or not if it’s quite some time after the events happened.’

A HM Courts and Tribunals Service spokesman said: ‘We are working with other agencies and are committed to reducing the time it takes for cases to go through the criminal justice system.’