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NEWS

Fair Trials submission to the Justice Committee: COVID-19 and the criminal law

FairTrials Admin - June 8, 2021 - COVID-19 Updates

In April 2021, Fair Trials submitted evidence to the Justice Committee on the effects of COVID-19 on criminal law in England and Wales. Changes to the operation of the criminal justice system, the increasing use of certain mechanisms during the pandemic, as well as new COVID-19 related criminal offences, have had a huge impact on criminal justice in England and Wales.

There have been significant and serious issues with disproportionate policing of COVID-19 regulations and laws, and in the resulting imposition of fines (through Fixed Penalty Notices) and criminal charges under those laws and regulations. As a result of this, and confusion amongst police, prosecutors, magistrates and judges over the new laws, there have been a significant and unacceptable number of unlawful prosecutions under those regulations and laws.

The increased use of trial waiver systems for COVID-19 related criminal cases, such as the Single Justice Procedure, has led to extremely concerning outcomes, with the vast majority of charges receiving no plea. Defendants are also facing prolonged pre-trial detention as custody time limits are extended repeatedly, with record numbers of people held in pre-trial detention and thousands held beyond the legal custody time limits, made to suffer in inhumane prison conditions due to the Government’s refusal to release people on bail or to get cases heard on time.

Click here to download our full submission to the Justice Committee.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please call the media team on +44 (0) 7749 785 932 or email [email protected]

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