A question mark hung over the courts’ ability to process hundreds of people charged over the riots in Birmingham and across the country.
As Birmingham Magistrates’ Court took the unprecedented step of sitting on a Sunday, patience wore thin as long delays meant little work had been done by midday in the two court rooms hearing the cases.
There was a bottleneck of defendants coming into the system with not enough people to process the paperwork and liaise with lawyers. In Court Eight, District Judge Michael Wheeler became annoyed at having to repeatedly rise because papers and defendants were not ready.
“It’s all very well holding these emergency courts but it’s no good if we don’t have the right papers, the defendants being produced or the solicitors available,” he told the court clerk.
Court staff were also dismayed that many of the 17 cases listed to be heard were not related to the riots. Similar complaints about delays and problems processing cases were made by judges at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.