Strike forces Scottish court to drop half its criminal cases due to strike cases

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of criminal cases are being abandoned each week by one of Scotland's busiest courts because of a strike by administrative staff.

Hundreds of criminal cases are being abandoned each week by one of Scotland's busiest courts because of a strike by administrative staff.

More than half the defendants due to appear before Glasgow District Court have had their cases dropped because of the action mounted by council workers earlier this month.

Up to 2,000 cases are brought before the court each week including prosecutions for shoplifting, assault, drug offences and breaches of the peace. A spokesman for the Crown Office, which is responsible for criminal prosecutions in Scotland, confirmed that a large number of cases were being dropped. "Because of the on-going strike, we have discretion to defer cases that have already commenced, but when it comes to new cases we are having to look at new ways of dealing with them," said the spokesman.

He said custody cases are being redirected to stipendiary magistrates where possible and the procurators fiscal's office was trying to delay or re-arrange as many cases as possible at the court. "It is a matter of concern to the procurators fiscal and we are in close liaison with the police to try and resolve this matter," he said.

The 80 district court workers are part of a group of more than 600 administrative staff which went on indefinite strike at the beginning of November. The strike was called by Unison after it rejected the latest pay deal offered to council workers in Scotland.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) has upped its offer of a 2.5 per cent rise for one year to 6.1 per cent over two years.

About 70,000 staff have taken part in three-day stoppages since August which brought local authority services in Scotland to a standstill. The GMB and TGWU have accepted Cosla's latest offer.

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