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Court backlog ‘puts extra pressure on DA victims’

A logjam in cases at Teesside Crown Court caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is making things tougher for survivors of domestic abuse in bringing their case to court.

The longer wait puts “additional anxiety, doubt and strain on peoples’ mental health waiting for their case to come around,” Danielle Chadwick of the northeast England-based domestic abuse charity Harbour was quoted as saying by the Middlesbrough Gazette newspaper.

“A lot of the work we’re doing is to keep victims focused and feeling strong and able enough to get to court. That can be a challenge under normal circumstances. But with this extended period of wait, it can bring additional challenges too.”

As the coronavirus crisis is causing some criminal trials to be delayed by more than 12 months, there is a detrimental effect on victims and witnesses particularly in domestic abuse and sexual violence cases, interim police and crime commissioner for Cleveland Lisa Oldroyd said.

“That’s where we have seen the additional demand on our services in providing additional support and confidence to those victims and witnesses,” she told the area’s police and crime panel.

A spokesman for the government’s courts and tribunals service said: “We have worked hard to keep the justice system running throughout the pandemic and urgent cases, such as domestic abuse, are being prioritised. We are opening eight more Nightingale Courts, including in Middlesbrough, recruiting over a thousand new staff and further rolling out technology to boost our capacity.”

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