Representatives from the Judiciary, SCTS, COPFS, SPS, Police Scotland, SLAB and Scottish Government met last week to assess options to mitigate the impact of GEOAmey staffing shortages on the operations of the courts and delays for complainers, witnesses and accused. It was acknowledged that there is no single solution to the current challenges and a range of areas will be explored, including virtual custody courts and the processing of warrant cases, which will be developed in consultation with the legal profession.
As an immediate step to support the wellbeing of all involved in custody courts, Sheriffs Principal have taken the decision to set time limits on custody courts to avoid courts sitting late into the evening.
Court User Guidance has been published today which also removes the requirement of in person attendance at procedural hearings for those held on remand or serving custodial sentences, enabling GEOAmey resources to be deployed in other areas.
Sheriff Principal Aisha Anwar for the Sheriffdom of Glasgow and Strathkelvin said:
“The Sheriffs Principal have a statutory responsibility for the efficient disposal of business. The current difficulties are continuing to have a significant impact upon trial and custody courts throughout Scotland. The measures introduced in the Guidance are designed to enable GEOAmey to prioritise resources and acknowledge the need to safeguard the wellbeing of all those involved in custody courts. These measures are unprecedented and temporary short term solutions to the current challenges faced by the courts.”