Maidstone Crown Court will hear jury trials

Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, says he’s delighted the Ministry of Justice has agreed to establish a Nightingale Court near Maidstone.

The court, which will be at the Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel at Hollingbourne  and will be an extension of Maidstone Crown Court and will be operational this week.

Matthew Scott has been lobbying for such a court for many months, citing serious delays in the local court system due to the pandemic. Like many parts of the country, Kent has a significant backlog with some cases not listed for trial until 2022.

However, the establishment of a Nightingale Court will alleviate some of this pressure. It will hear civil, tribunal and other non-custodial cases, freeing up Maidstone Crown Court to hear jury trials which require cells and secure dock facilities.

Mr. Scott says, “I lobbied Ministers for the Nightingale Court because it is vital we address the backlog of cases in our justice system. Victims and witnesses deserve efficient and effective justice and this new facility will help deliver that. I am pleased that the Government is listening and acting on this crucial issue.

“I congratulate the team at HM Courts and Tribunal Service locally for their work to deliver this and pay tribute to all criminal justice agencies who are doing their best in difficult circumstances to ensure that our justice system continues to provide.

Matthew Scott

Confirming the opening, the Ministry for Justice said, “Mercure Maidstone has been approved as a Nightingale Court and will carry out Crown Court work, serving as a satellite of Maidstone Combined Court Centre. The opening of this site will help boost the capacity of Maidstone Combined Court Centre, enabling an additional two hearing rooms on top of the current operational capability. This will help reduce delays to cases and deliver speedier justice for victims.”

And the charity Victim Support has welcomed the news too. Kent’s area manager, David Naylor says, “The Covid pandemic has had a significant impact on victims and survivors of crime, not least due to the increasing backlog of cases sitting with the court system. The creation of a Nightingale Court in Maidstone will go some way towards addressing these issues and we look forward to continuing to work with all of our partners in the Criminal Justice System to ensure victims get the support and access to justice that they deserve.”

By Ed