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New plans unveiled to speed up courts system


Criminal cases involving a range of offences including theft, violence and racism will be sent to crown courts more quickly under plans unveiled today.

"Either-way offences", which can be tried at either magistrates' or crown courts depending on the seriousness of the allegations, will be sent straight to crown courts if magistrates deem it appropriate.

So-called committal hearings have already been scrapped in areas serving 33 crown courts and have now been extended to the remaining 60 crown courts across the country, Justice Minister Damian Green said.

This will mean around 60,000 fewer hearings will be needed each year.

Mr Green said: "Abolishing committal hearings is another one of the reforms we are taking forward to make justice respond more quickly and effectively for victims, witnesses and taxpayers."

The changes are part of a wider package of reforms aimed at speeding up processes within the criminal justice system, which also include dedicated traffic courts and increased use of digital technology between courts, prisons and police stations.