The Coronavirus Act 2020

As the police redeploy and only arrest where absolutely necessary and the courts slow down, I find myself in the unusual position of having 10 minutes spare to compose a blog…

The current state of play is that all ongoing jury trials will continue until conclusion. Locally, no new jury trials will commence and any trial listed between now and 27 April will be vacated and relisted later in the year. This is sure to cause significant problems to a criminal justice system that is already listing trials that are over two years old.

At present, Crown Courts are only covering urgent work which may include for example a bail application or to extend custody time limits.

Likewise, Magistrates’ Courts are only covering urgent work such as overnight custody cases and people produced from prison.

Finally, the police are being diverted to coronavirus related patrols, for example dispersing barbeques or house parties as I have read in the local press!

It is now a criminal offence to leave the place where you are living (unless homeless) without a reasonable excuse.

'Reasonable excuses' are listed and include assisting vulnerable people, taking daily exercise, purchasing food necessities or attending court!

As designated ‘key workers’, myself and my colleagues are still on call 24/7, as and when we are needed.

The Coronavirus Act 2020

The Coronavirus Act 2020 is now out and sees a number of temporary changes in the criminal justice system.

In the Act, for mental health related cases, only one practitioner is now required to make a recommendation instead of two where impractical or would involve undesirable delay (Schedule 8).

New screening procedures and powers of enforcement are brought in for those suspected of having coronavirus or symptoms which could result in a fine, not exceeding level 3 if somebody fails to comply without reasonable excuse (Schedule 21).

Under Schedule 22, people can be fined (a £60 fine, which is reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days and an additional fine of £120 for a second offence) if they fail without reasonable excuse to comply with a prohibition relating to events, gatherings and premises.

Finally, Schedules 23-26 inclusive, introduce and fast track the courts’ powers to utilise live audio and video links for people to take part in proceedings amending existing legislation.