Officials fall quiet about when Northamptonshire will get its 'Nightingale Court'

Both the Ministry of Justice and the county's police and crime commissioner have been unable to say anything more about it after nearly three months.

Tuesday, 26th January 2021, 10:56 am
there have been no updates on Northamptonshire's proposed "Nightingale Court" in three months.

Both county crime officials and the Ministry of Justice have been unable to provide any more details about the Northamptonshire Nightingale Court suggested almost three months ago.

It has been 11 weeks since Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold indicated to this newspaper that the county would be one of the next locations for the emergency "pop up" court to deal with Northamptonshire's backlog of criminal cases.

Now, despite 19 such courts now operating in England and another nine reportedly on the cards, updates on Northamptonshire's court have fallen silent.

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When the Ministry of Justice was asked outright if Northamptonshire would even see one open, a spokesman only said: "There are no updates on a Nightingale court at Northampton."

It comes after this newspaper previously reported that Northampton Crown was saddled with 501 pending cases at the end of June last year.

Further, figures in October 2020 suggested Northampton Crown takes two years to conclude cases from the day they are committed, compared to a national average of 19 months.

When asked by this newspaper, PCC Stephen Mold was unable to provide more information.

The possibility that Northamptonshire was on the shortlist was first reported by the Press Association in November 2020.

This newspaper reported on the potential court opening following an interview with Stephen Mold, who indicated the county would open it on BBC Radio Northampton.

He told this newspaper at the time: "I commend all the joint work between the crown prosecution service, the Ministry of Justice and partners in Northamptonshire to bring this forward.

"The longer delays go on the more victims and witnesses have to live with the events of their case."

When asked about Northamptonshire's backlog of cases, PCC Stephen Mold said the county's courts had been holding "extra sitting hours" to deal with cases and believed delayed cases were dropping. He was unable to provide statistics.

He said: "I believe the Northamptonshire number [of cases] has dropped significantly.

"I would not be surprised if they are not looking at [opening a Nightingale Court] anymore.

"The need to have one in Northamptonshire has been mitigated significantly and I'm much more optimistic about Northamptonshire than the national picture."

Police and Crime Commissioners are elected officials who are not directly involved with the court service.

This newspaper asked the Ministry of Justice if there was a plan to open a Nightingale Court in Northamptonshire.

A spokesman said: "There are no updates on a Nightingale court at Northampton.

"Work is ongoing to identify more potential locations across the country but any announcements will be made in due course."