Gloucestershire set for 'Nightingale Court' to deal with record number of criminal cases

Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner requested the court be used again earlier this year. Credit: Gloucestershire PCC

A 'Nightingale Court' is opening in Gloucestershire to handle the record number of criminal cases that are bringing the county's courts 'to their knees'.

The former magistrates' court in Cirencester is being temporarily loaned to the Ministry of Justice so that it can help manage a backlog of more than 1,000 cases.

It's the latest temporary court to be announced by the Lord Chancellor as part of plans to tackle the impact of coronavirus on the justice system.

The new 'Nightingale Court' could hear its first cases at the start of 2021.

Criminal cases have more than doubled in Gloucestershire during the pandemic and there are more than 1,000 currently outstanding.

Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Martin Surl, asked the Government earlier this year if the building could be used to help manage the backlog.

He threatened to withdraw his offer after months of waiting for a response.

Following the announcement, he said it was good news for those wanting justice.

Mr Surl said waiting lists for criminal cases are "higher than they've ever been" and it could be at least 2022 before they are restored to normal.

He added: "It has taken a huge amount of effort and persistence to get to this stage. I was critical of the Ministry for not being able to tie this up and get the court back into action much sooner but that is history now and I am glad the building can be put to good use."

Cirencester Court used to be a magistrates' court and reserve crown court until it was axed in 2012.

Work is now being carried out to bring it back to full working order in the new year.