THE county's police and crime commissioner has spoken out on the effect Covid-19 is having victims of crime as they wait for justice amid court backlogs.

Figures released at the beginning of the month show over 100 fewer criminal cases were dealt with at Worcester Crown Court during lockdown compared with the first three months of the year.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “It is my duty to ensure that the communities of West Mercia receive the best possible policing service and unfortunately the current approach to video remand hearings is undermining that ability.

“I am taking a stand for all those victims and survivors of crime who are facing, on average, 16 weeks wait for trials and for it to also not affect wider communities. Whilst I understand Covid-19 has had an impact on the court system, action needs to be taken to make sure the solution is sustainable and works for all those involved.”

At the start of the pandemic, virtual court hearings were rolled out early to help and Mr Campion pressed for them to be introduced, and said at the time the move would help him honour his commitment to put victims and survivors first.

Mr Campion added: “I have called on the Government to consider how this situation moves forward, and to ensure that the communities of West Mercia don’t suffer from how it is currently running. I am willing to work with the Government and partners to see it is improved.”

The Law Society of England and Wales, which represents solicitors, said the Covid-19 pandemic had merely exacerbated a significant existing backlog, caused by “years of underfunding and cuts”.

“Justice is being delayed for victims, witnesses and defendants, who have proceedings hanging over them for months, if not years, with some trials now being listed for 2022,” said President Simon Davis.