Labour has accused the Conservative government of being “complicit with criminals” amid a record backlog of serious cases waiting to be heard at courts.
The opposition says the 57,000 cases at Crown Courts and record low prosecutions and convictions for rape are the result of “a decade of Conservative cuts and court closures”.
Keir Starmer’s MPs will make a parliamentary push on Wednesday for the creation of more so-called “Nightingale Courts” – temporary tribunals to boost the capacity of the justice system.
And they will try to summon the Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland, to update the Commons in person on the progress in reducing the backlog.
MPs will be asked to vote on a package of measures, which also include enshrining victims’ rights in law and introducing measures to combat violence against women and girls.
Austerity measures brought in by the government have resulted in the closure of half of all courts in England and Wales between 2010 and 2019.
The National Audit Office says the government plans to close 77 more courts by 2025/26.
“Inaction is complicity,” said David Lammy, the party’s shadow justice secretary.
“A decade of government cuts and court closures has helped create a sky-high backlog and record-low conviction rates for serious crimes like rape
“The Conservative Party’s failure to address these damning failures shows it is becoming complicit with criminals.
“MPs should vote with Labour to enshrine victims rights, to protect women and girls from violence, and to fix the backlog of criminal cases.”
The cross party House of Commons Justice Select Committee last year said that the “dramatic reduction in the size of the courts estate in England and Wales” over the past ten years “looks increasingly difficult to justify”.