Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Caroline Ansell has raised concerns with the Attorney General about an 800 crown court cases backlog in Sussex.

Caroline told Michael Ellis that one case was approaching four years without ever coming to court and there was a rising drop-out rate that was potentially denying justice to victims.

“The Nightingale court in Chichester is making a real difference, but we still need greater capacity and pace,” she told MPs when she spoke in the House of Commons.

“Can he assure me that every avenue is being pursued to address this backlog, so that we can ensure justice for victims in Eastbourne and in Sussex?”

In reply the minister said: “CPS South East in her region is working with all criminal justice partners to support the recovery activity within Sussex, including to ensure court capacity can be maximised. The latest levels of cases that I have seen flowing through the courts indicate that in recent weeks at least, outstanding case load in the crown court has begun to reduce.

“However, there is still more to be done, and I should say at this point that there is no limit on the number of days that crown courts can sit for the next fiscal year. That will enable crown court judges to hold as many hearings as they safely can and as is physically possible, as we continue to recover from the pandemic.”

Speaking afterwards Caroline added: “We need to speed up the criminal justice system in Sussex and I am pleased the Attorney General is now aware of the backlog and measures are being taken to address it.

“I would urge everyone involved to do their utmost to clear these cases so that victims and their families can get on with their lives. Defendants too need to know their case will be heard and justice administered without waiting years.

“It has been a challenging time for the courts and I thank everyone who has worked hard to keep them going but we need to see progress now otherwise faith in the system will be undermined.”