OCTOBER 18, 2018
Manchester Crown Court in Minshull Street is one of the slowest courts in England and Wales for processing child sexual offences.
Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport, and author of two reports on child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester, said the six month long delays were ‘unacceptable’ and ‘torture for victims’.
She said the latest figures were very disappointing and called for urgent action to speed up the process for victims.
Ms Coffey asked the Ministry of Justice how long delays were for each of the 74 Crown Courts in the country for child sexual offences from when the case was first received by the Crown Court to the main hearing.
The Parliamentary Answer (avaliable here) revealed Minshull Street in Manchester had the seventh highest average waiting time in the country.
In 2017 Minshull Street tried 177 defendants for child sexual offences and the average waiting time was about six months (186 days) – from when the case was sent to the court to the main hearing.
In addition many children in Greater Manchester will have already been waiting for many months from when they first reported the crime.
Ms Coffey, a long time campaigner on children’s issues, spoke to many children and young people who had been victims of sexual abuse for her two ‘Real Voices’ reports into child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester, commissioned by the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner and published in 2014 and 2017.
Children told her how difficult they found delays and how they dreaded court cases.
Ms Coffey, who is also the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, said:
“I am very disappointed that cases involving traumatised child rape victims are still taking up to six months from when they are first sent to Minshull Crown Court to the main hearing. It is unacceptable as every day waiting can be torture for the victim and their families.
“Many children will have already been waiting for many months since they first reported the offence. To have to wait another six months after their case is actually received by the Crown Court is a terrible extra burden for them. We need urgent action to ensure these cases are completed as quickly as possible.”
The Crown Court in Manchester’s Crown Square performed better than Minshull Street for child sexual offences recording the 27th highest average waiting time out of all the 74 Crown Courts in England and Wales. It had 119 defendants and an average waiting time of 150 days.