'Nightingale Courts' set up in theatres and cathedrals to deal with record backlog in trials due to Covid-19

The concept that "justice delayed is justice denied" dates back centuries to the Magna Carta, but in modern Britain the coronavirus pandemic is causing record delays in the legal system.

Social distancing means that trials, especially those involving juries, are far harder to conduct.

Government has set up a string of 'Nightingale Courts' aiming to tackle the problem and we have new details of their plans. 

Yet many of those affected by the delays believe far too little is being done about a problem that could have been foreseen 10 months ago.

The courts backlog is now at record levels, with 51,595 outstanding Crown Court cases in England and Wales, a 46% rise since January. 

In Magistrates courts it is 489,226 cases, a rise of 56%. 

51,595

The number of backlogged Crown Court cases in England and Wales due to the pandemic

56%

The increase in backlogged cases at Magistrates Courts due to the pandemic

We've learned that 27 temporary Portakabin jury rooms have been set up alongside the 16 emergency Nightingale Courts.

The new courtrooms are in some unusual places - including the Lowry Theatre in Manchester and Peterborough Cathedral.

One woman who, in March, told police she had been raped told us: "I have my life on hold, I don't have a life... there is no support I feel completely abandoned.

"I have anxiety, I have panic attacks... nobody is interested in listening to victims.

"This is destroying me, our lives are on hold until there is a trial... If I had a chance to report him again I wouldn't have because of this... I'd be better if I hadn't reported him and that's heart-breaking."

The Lord Chancellor is considering remote juries to cope with the backlog in cases caused by coronavirus. Credit: ITV News

The Lord Chancellor told ITV News he is now considering use of remote juries - using video links.

That's something that already happens in Scotland, but would require a change in the law to extend to the rest of the UK.

We have also learned that agreement has been reached to prioritise rapid Covid testing for the courts, in  a further bid to reduce the delays. 

The Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland QC, MP told ITV News: "I well understand the frustrations delays can cause to everybody caught up in proceedings, that's why I'm taking a daily involvement in court recovery.

"We have spent £80m and we will be spending more. 85% of all cases of people remanded in custody are going to be heard between now and next spring."