What to do

If you have recently experienced a delay in a criminal court please take a moment to leave a short reply below which explains:

(1) How long the delay was;

(2) When and in which court it happened;

(3) What caused the delay;

(4) The case name, if disclosable (please respect any reporting restrictions which may be in place).

It’s up to you what information you post about yourself of course, but be aware that anonymous replies will carry less weight than replies from identifiable and credible sources.

If you would prefer not to have your reply (or part of your reply) posted here but you still want to inform us of a delay (or matters relating to a delay) which you have experienced, please send us an email at courtdelays@5kbw.co.uk and we will treat it in confidence.

Please do try to ensure the accuracy of any information provided as the purpose of this exercise will be frustrated if the Ministry of Justice is presented with unreliable data.

Many thanks,

The South Eastern Circuit


  1. Paul Cavin · · Reply

    R v MAWIA and others.
    7 handed trial at isleworth .

    I day lost because jurors mother had stroke over night. To her eternal credit she returned to serve the following day.

    I day lost because counsel ill.

    Over the course of 3 weeks defendants in custody brought up late. 15-20 mins at a time.

    Days of court time saved by counsel (and days of refreshers) by drafting 23 pages of admissions.

  2. Fer Chinner · · Reply

    Today I went to represent a 16 year old defendant at Inner London Crown Court. The case was listed for PCMH. The court staff were unable to work the court equipment. The case was adjourned for him to be produced in person.

    On Friday (21st June 2013) at snaresbrook CC a sentence listed at 2pm was not started until 4.15 pm because the defendant hadnt been produced for a video link. R v Niaam

  3. Valerie Charbit · · Reply

    Kingston Crown Court 25.6.13
    Defendant produced on video link for PCMH. Judge very accomodating as were prison but it was not possible to wait linked online to prison all morning for an indictment to be drafted so defendant could plead guilty to alternative charges. Had the defendant been produced at court he could have waited in the cells whilst prosecution counsel dealt with other matters and then drafted alternative charges. Instead we all have to return next week when the defendant will plead guilty to alternative charges. This is a waste of everyone’s time as once at court it is better to wait around than have to return a week later. Case ongoing so not disclosing name.

  4. 1) Delay by way of entirely wasted morning
    2) Westminster MC, 25/6/13
    3) Case previously fixed for legal argument today. Arrived at court to find case not listed due to “admin error” on part of court. Case refixed for future date.
    4) R-v-Oswald

  5. John Clifford · · Reply

    During the course of a 4 hander affray trial [R-v- Keane & Ors] at Woolwich C.C. in April 2013, court proceedings were delayed for up to two hours because Serco did not have a dock officer available. This is not the first time this has happened.

  6. Jonathan Mole · · Reply

    Sentence listed for a 15-year-old boy at Amersham CC on a Friday morning. He was remanded at Oakhill Secure Training Centre (run by G4S).

    G4S didn’t produce him – case adjourned until Monday.

    Monday – case listed at 10am. G4S managed to get him to court for a little after 11am – trial delayed in same court as our case had then to be interposed.

  7. Christopher Amis · · Reply

    R -v Adrian Buchert
    Case listed for trial Luton Crown Court 3.6.13
    Polish defendant
    Interpreter failed to attend
    Only reason why trial did not have to be aborted was because defendant pleaded guilty and had sufficient understanding of English to do that although he could not have managed a trial without an interpreter.

  8. Jonathan Mole · · Reply

    PCMH at Aylesbury CC listed at 9.45am – Somali client. Interpreter arrives 10.45 having gone to the County Court by mistake – showed me her booking form from the ‘centralized agency’ which simply gives the address of the court (‘County Hall’ – which is the address of the Crown Court) rather than instructions to attend the Crown Court.
    Case not ready to be called on until c11.30.
    Court unable to do much other work as custodies not brought to court until after 10 – Court and Counsel sat waiting due to various agencies…

  9. Christopher Amis · · Reply

    A rather longer response I’m afraid but that’s because it’s:

    A Snapshot of One Practitioner’s Experience in the Criminal Courts Over 5 Weeks

    Rape trial at Reading Crown Court – multiple counts of rape and other sexual assaults on a young girl now aged 19. Start date of trial – 29.4.13

    Trial was meant to start on Monday 29th April 2013 and last 5 days. It lasted 10 days because of endless problems, none the fault of the defence.

    The case could not start on Monday 29th morning because other cases had been put in the list in the same court and those were not concluded until after lunch that day.

    The jury were sworn in and the case was opened at 2pm but we could go no further.
    We lost the rest of Monday afternoon and the whole of Tuesday morning because of a failure by the police to make timely disclosure of unused material. A Pc has been assigned to investigate this serious case because the police lack the resources to commit a properly trained CID officer to it. She has had no training at all in investigation and no training in particular in relation to disclosure of material that might assist the defence. Her work is meant to be monitored by an officer with some experience but she clearly hadn’t been monitored as needed. One could hardly blame the Pc concerned.

    We had to adjourn until Tuesday at 2pm so that prosecution counsel could go through the 5 boxes of material which the Pc had, without any warning, turned up with at Court on the first day of trial. She had not the faintest idea that the CPS and prosecution counsel would need hours to go through the material, decide what to disclose, copy the material to the defence and that the defence would then need time to consider it and take instructions from their lay client. The Pc had not informed the CPS that she had this material in her possession.

    The trial got going on Tuesday afternoon. The consequence of not starting the evidence on time on Monday morning was that the complainant in this exceptionally sensitive case, a young girl, had to start her evidence on Tuesday after lunch and return to court on Wednesday morning for cross-examination instead of completing her evidence in one day – which is regarded as much more satisfactory because it makes the difficult and unpleasant task of having to give evidence about such intimate matters easier if attendance at court without an overnight break can be achieved. Thus the lack of police resources led to an officer of insufficient experience failing to deal with disclosure properly which itself led directly to the complainant’s ordeal in this sensitive case being made worse.

    On Wednesday we lost an hour of court time between 10.30 and 11.40am because yet another case was inserted by the list office into the Judge’s list. So he had to deal with that in the middle of the complainant’s evidence, interrupting her evidence and prolonging her ordeal further.

    On Wednesday morning after 11.40am the complainant’s evidence was again interrupted and more time was lost because the court equipment which records the proceedings stopped working. The jury were sent out and we all waited around while the court clerk rushed about trying to find someone who knew what to do. This it turned out, from conversation with other counsel who do cases at this court centre, was a problem that has been encountered repeatedly at this court centre over recent months- because the MOJ have apparently tried to save money by purchasing cheaper recording equipment from a new supplier which either does not work or cannot be worked properly by staff who receive insufficient training in its operation. This was the second rape trial I have done at this court centre in the space of 6 months which has been interrupted and delayed by failures in the court equipment. (In the last rape trial I did here we lost at least half a day in the middle of the complainant’s evidence because the video-link did not work).

    The court recording equipment having been got to work again there was further delay because the video-link equipment was no longer available. As we had overrun another court was meant to be using it now so arrangements had to be made to move to another court with the same, available, equipment. There was further delay because once a court with video-link equipment was found the usher was unable to get into the link room because her swipe card would not permit her to enter. So the complainant was unable to access the room housing the video link by which she was to give her evidence.

    The case continued. On Wednesday 8th May, in the second week of this trial, after court proceedings were adjourned the integrity of the entire case was seriously jeopardised by the same Pc who had failed to handle pre-trial disclosure properly. The Pc allowed herself to become involved in a conversation with one of the jurors as she was leaving the court – seen by the defence. No CID officer would have considered allowing himself to be drawn into a conversation with a juror in the middle of the Judge’s summing-up or at any stage of a trial. The Pc who did had very little experience indeed of coming to the Crown Court. This historic rape case was only the third case she has ever been asked to investigate. She plainly made this serious error because she has virtually no experience of how to behave when appearing as a witness at the Crown Court. She should never have been asked to assume responsibility for this serious case but the police apparently do not have the money to appoint an appropriate person from CID.

    The consequence of this Pc’s conduct was the waste of further time on Thursday morning 9th May. The case was supposed to resume with the jury at 10am when the Judge intended to finish his summing-up. It could not resume until 11.27am because the Judge had to investigate what had happened by calling the Pc and the juror into court and hearing evidence from them, listening to submissions from counsel and watching the CCTV evidence showing the juror and Pc leaving court together.

    So – we lost half the court-sitting morning again as a direct consequence of a lack of resources and the appointment of a totally unsuitable officer as the lead investigating officer. We were extremely fortunate that the whole trial did not have to be abandoned and tried again, at enormous expense to the public purse. That we didn’t have to discharge the jury was a matter of sheer good fortune and owed much to the reasonableness of the defence.

    What happened in this serious and sensitive trial is absolutely typical of the problems being encountered in the criminal justice system where delays caused by failures of court equipment and failing to deal properly with disclosure, in particular, are absolutely endemic. It was only a matter of good fortune that the trial did not have to be stopped and a re-trial ordered with all the expense to the public and the trauma to the complainant of having to wait for a re-trial and give evidence all over again.

    Attempted rape trial the week before the case above at Wood Green Crown Court : 22-26th April

    This was a case that I inherited on Friday 20th April,and which was meant to be concluded in three days, that started on Monday 22nd April 13. I was prosecuting.

    All that could be achieved on the first day of trial was swearing in of the jury and opening the case. The case was so poorly prepared that I had to ask for most of Monday to put my own brief together at court and consider a large amount of unused material which the lead investigating officer had dumped in front of me for the first time at court.

    We lost three quarters of a day’s court time as a result of this failure by the police to serve the unused material, long ago requested, on the CPS in time and as a result of the failure of the CPS to obtain transcripts of material which were of central importance.

    Fraud trial at Isleworth Crown Court – between 9th April and 19th April 2013

    This was a fraud trial which was meant to start on Tuesday 9th April. It was listed for 5 days but took 9 days purely as a result of the failure by the CPS and police to prepare it properly. That failure to prepare was because the CPS lawyer who had responsibility for the case was so overworked that she said she had about 186 cases on her shelves and it was simply impossible to keep on top of the work. She was plainly a conscientious person who was simply overwhelmed by the amount of work she is expected to do.

    We could not start the trial on Tues 9th April because the court did not have enough jurors. (This happened yesterday, 25.6.13, at Luton Crown Court, to another case I was not involved in.)

    We swore the jury on the 10th April but I had to explain to a troubled Judge that because the advice sent to the CPS by counsel had not been followed up we would need the rest of the day to gather evidence and defence counsel quite reasonably said she would need at least an hour on the second day of trial, before we started, to take proper instructions from her client on the newly served material. We lost at least the first half of Tuesday and an hour on the second morning, Wednesday, as a result.

    Throughout days 3-8 we constantly lost time in court because the case was being investigated as we went along, with fresh important statements being obtained at the request of Crown counsel from witnesses, in the middle of the trial, and served on the defence, who were expected to cope with accounting documents and new schedules of financial information with little warning and then cross-examine witnesses.

    The Judge constantly had to allow the defence, what amounted in the end to hours of what should have been court-sitting time, to cope with the never-ending stream of new material the prosecution, in order to ensure the case was properly presented, had to produce.

    This could have been entirely avoided if the lead investigating officer had been asked by the CPS to meet for a pre-trial conference to identify what evidence needed gathering still and what needed disclosing. No conference ever took place between any police officer and the CPS.

    The allegation was not trivial. It involved theft of getting on for £500,000. The defendant was a professional man of good character.

    So – a case that should have been concluded in 5 days took 4 days longer.

    It should be noted that none of the delays in any of the 3 cases I have conducted over the last 5 weeks, listed above, has been the fault of the defence in any way.
    The above is a snapshot of my life in the criminal courts. My experiences are absolutely common-place. Not a single trial in the last 5 weeks has taken place which has not been marked by terrible delays and inefficiency – all because there is no money in the system.

  10. Julian Jones · · Reply

    Julian Jones

    Croydon Crown Court

    Monday 17 December 2012

    Complex confiscation hearing scheduled for five days. In fact lasted four before being adjourned for reasons unrelated to the delays

    Case name withheld as proceedings ongoing

    The equivalent of at least one day lost lost due to prisoner transport delays

    The equivalent of at least one day lost due to HHJ’s daily list being filled with other matters

    Half a day

  11. Central criminal court. Trial listed at 9.30, juror attends at 10.15, sit until 11.10 as Judge has other judicial functions to perform, restart at 2, rise at 4 as juror has an appointment.

  12. 3 Handed PCMH listed in Court 11 at Snaresbrook CC yesterday (24 June 2013) before HHJ Kennedy. It had to be adjourned as the one defendant in custody was not produced. Back again in two weeks.

  13. Courtdelays has been e-mailed and informed about a no-show (or ay least a very-late-show) by the CPS prosecutor for Court 1, City of London Magistrates’ Court yesterday. Many delays to cases, at least two adjourned to another date.

  14. Louise McCullough · · Reply

    Trial in South London Court on 24th June delayed because the ABE DVDs were incompatible with the system in the actual courtroom (despite being tested elsewhere) -then audio problems in witness videolink room led to parallell watching of ABE. Total court time lost c 2 hours

  15. Michelle Pibworth · · Reply

    R v Goodwin at Medway Magistrates’ Court – Trial adjourned twice due to the Court not having enough gaolers.

    R v Bains at Maidstone Crown Court – at least two hearings where no interpreter attended, including on the day of trial when the booked interpreters did not attend for either the defendants or the alleged victim.

    There have been numerous occasions at Magistrates Courts in Kent where cases have been adjourned for lack of court time, as on some days the courts over-list, and on other days the list is virtually empty.

    Trial at Medway Magistrates’ Court – adjourned as interpreter booked by court only booked by her company for one hour.

    R v Martin at Dartford Magistrates’ Court – case listed at Dartford, both I and defendant attended there (latter brought in custody). The court’s recent policy is for remand prisoners to be taken to Medway Magistrates’ Court, so Mr Martin was turned away and both I and the prison van had to travel to Medway when there were enough gaolers to accept the prisoner at Dartford.

  16. 1) two hours.

    2) 17.6.13 @ St Albans CC

    3) Part-heard confiscation. Defendant not produced. Case adjourned.

    4) R v Mackay.

  17. R v Wellington at Winchester Crown Court
    April 2013
    Mrs Justice Nichola Davies, QC was the trial judge in a 5 handed murder trial.

    We lost a couple of days due to the inefficiency of the prison service/Serco. On one day, the Defendants, who were in custody at HMP Winchester (minutes from court) were taken to Portsmouth first for a drop off at that court and then back to Winchester, arriving just after midday.

    On another day, we lost significant time as a witness was remanded in custody for failing to answer a summons and was part heard in evidence. The learned judge ordered he be produced at court for 10am to continue his evidence. He did not arrive until the afternoon as the prison service failed to produce him by leaving the prison without him. A senior representative of the prison appeared
    before the judge and confirmed all they would receive was a small fine.

    This was in the backdrop of the Defendants generally arriving late on a couple of days.

    At least 2 days of court time were lost.

  18. Courtdelays have been e-mailed regarding a multi-complainant rape case in Cardiff Crown Court. Originally listed for five days this trial lasted nine days due to fact that three interpreters supplied were totally inadequate. One broke down on tears in the dock proclaiming he was only a shop keeper. Eventually one was found – a tier one interpreter – not supplied by capita . The trial was nearly aborted due to this. The Defendant eventually receieved a sentence of life imprisonment .

  19. 1) 4 days so far
    2) Wolverhampton Crown
    3) Day one with jury Juror ill at 15.00 adj to next day he can’t continue so new jury sworn – delay whilst court re-assembles the panel as a 6-10 week case
    Day 2 jury sworn 11.00 – next day note from jury that one juror was nodding off during opening – luckily this time Judge had agreed to defence suggestion to have 2 stand-by jurors and so we stand him down and continue. Delay though whilst that arranged.
    Day 5 defendant ill so case stood back for him to get well second full day lost
    yesterday Judge ill
    During trial police equipment broke down – vulnerable witness room couldn’t be shown cctv as we watched in court so police had to show it in Court then go round to the room.
    One lead counsel ill during trial – no delay as junior took over
    In total about 4 days lost and we are only on day 13 (with jury) today.
    Reporting restrictions in place so will just say Court 7 Wolverhampton Crown Court

  20. Deborah Morris · · Reply

    Blackfriars Crown Court
    Monday 24 June
    For trial on 2 sexual assaults
    Case of R v Patel
    Listed for trial at 10.30am
    Started tannoying for interpreter at 10am. No response
    Told by court clerk just before 10.30 that Capita were not sending anyone. Court then booked one through old list and on NRPSI. Delay 1 hour 30 mins

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