Bolton: Yasmin Qureshi MP accuses government of ‘legalising criminal activity’

A Bolton MP has accused the government of ‘effectively legalising criminal activity’ by failing to tackle huge court backlogs.

This comes with the backlog at Bolton Crown Court currently standing at over 500 cases, including for serious cases like rape, assault and drug trafficking.

Now, Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi has used her platform in the House of Commons to ask how the government has allowed this to happen.

She said: “As a former criminal prosecutor, private practice barrister, and shadow justice minister, to sit in this House and watch the Government oversee the managed decline of our legal system is deeply, deeply concerning.

“In Bolton, our courts backlog now stands at over 500, up over 10 percent on this time 6 months ago; including 20 rape cases amongst other serious criminal trials.

Ms Qureshi argued that the backlog has reached such a state that the government “has effectively legalised criminal activity in Bolton, Greater Manchester, and throughout Britain.”

The Bolton News: Bolton Crown CourtBolton Crown Court (Image: Newsquest)

Criminal barristers have faced huge challenges in recent months with the first strike ever in the profession’s history having ended only weeks ago and many junior advocates fearing that budget cuts and low pay will leave them with no option but to leave the profession.

Ms Qureshi says she fears this could have huge repercussions for the victims of crime.

She said: “It is not much to ask for a legal system which ensures victims have recourse and everyone has the right to access a fair trial.”

“The government’s failure to tackle this crisis has effectively legalised criminal activity and it simply has never been so good to be a criminal, and it is working people who are paying the prices.”

ALSO READ: ‘Justice at breaking point’ with 100s of Bolton criminal cases delayed

ALSO READ: Barristers launch all-out strike in protest against ‘crumbling’ system

But the government has said it is working hard to address the backlog by various means

Justice Minister Gareth Johnson MP said: “It is a serious matter, that’s why we’ve put in a catalogue of measures to help tackle this matter.

“We’ve brough in Nightingale Courts which are going to be sitting still until 2024-25, we’ve increased the cap on sitting days, we’ve raised judges’ retirement ages.”

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