A CHARITY has condemned “unacceptable” figures which show that waiting times from offence to court verdict in criminal cases are increasing.

Experimental statistics published by the Scottish Government show that across “all crime groupings and court types, median journey times of accused persons increased in 2021-22”.

It highlighted that the impact of the pandemic was being felt across the entirety of the justice system, with all court types (excluding Justice of the Peace) seeing an additional increase in median journey times over the first nine months of 2022-23.

Indeed, the median journey time through the justice process in the first nine of months of 2022-23 was 2 years and 10 months in the High Court, where the most serious criminal cases are heard.

They also show that the longest journey times were for people charged with at least one sexual offence prosecuted in the High Court. The median time in these cases was around four years.

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Sandy Brindley, the chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, said it was important to remember that behind the statistics were survivors of crimes awaiting justice.

She said: “It is totally unacceptable for a survivor to have to wait four years for justice.

“But new figures from the Scottish Government today reveal that this is the reality facing some survivors in Scotland.

“The pandemic has made court delays significantly worse, but it’s important to remember that survivors were facing very difficult and distressing delays for justice before the pandemic took hold too.

“Behind every one of these statistics is a complainer. It’s very important that nobody, in government or in the justice system, loses sight of that when they talk about the justice system.

“Recent research clearly evidences the very serious impact these delays have on the psychological wellbeing of survivors. It couldn’t be clearer that we need to see real action on delays.

“We very much hope that the upcoming bill from the Scottish Government on justice reform will take steps to end these appalling delays for justice and make seeking justice a less difficult process for survivors in Scotland.”

The median waiting times for Sheriff solemn court cases in the first nine months of 2022-23 stand at one year and five months while for summary court cases it is 11 months.

The Scottish Government states that the type of crimes a person is charged with can impact their journey time, with the longest waits occurring for those accused of sexual crimes in the High Court.

It added that a proportion of these relate to historic crimes and that the age of the offence can impact on journey time.