News In Focus
Glasgow High Court opens two extra courtrooms
Two new courtrooms at Glasgow High Court were formally inaugurated this afternoon by the Lord Justice General, Lord Carloway.
The extra capacity has been added to help deal with an unprecedented 60% increase over the last four years in the number of High Court cases proceeding to trial. This is the result in particular of a significant rise in the reporting and detection sexual offences, including historic sexual and physical abuse. Such cases are also generally more complex, requiring more court time, and with fewer guilty pleas ahead of trial.
There are now eight trial courts and one preliminary hearing court at the Saltmarket complex. The two new courtrooms allow the presiding judge the facility to view pre-recorded testimony, both examination in chief and cross-examination, of children and other vulnerable witnesses, as well as other audio-visual statements admitted as evidence of fact.
Just under £2m has been spent in adapting the grade A listed building, to provide the associated for jury rooms, jury dining, judges’ chambers, witness rooms and custody holding cells along with the new courts. Architect Michael Laurie and main contractor Morris & Spottiswood delivered the project.
Speaking at today’s launch Lord Carloway said: “These new courtrooms are much needed, and together with planned High Court accommodation as part of the new Inverness Justice Centre, meet our aim of ensuring that the majority of High Court trials take place in dedicated specialist facilities across Scotland that are designed to meet the needs of the modern trial, with appropriate security and technology to support the presentation of digital evidence.
"However, continually creating court capacity is not sustainable and instead we must look to the radical reform of current processes, which are identified in the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service Evidence and Procedure Review – Next Steps report.
“Since the publication of that report the SCTS has, through further wideranging collaboration, revised and reviewed the recommendations and will soon announce initial steps designed, for example, to remove vulnerable children from our courtrooms."
He concluded: “Radical reform, exploiting the opportunity which digital technology presents, is needed to make sure we continue to have a justice system that matches public expectations in the 21st century.”