Nearly half of all criminal trials were delayed in Bolton at points over last year amid dire warnings of the strain the justice system is facing.

Of the 60 trials, encompassing the most serious crimes including murder, rape, assault and more, meant to take place at Bolton Crown Court between July and September last year, 29 were delayed.

This is according to the Ministry of Justice’s own figures, which show a sharp rise in delays compared to the year before.

Bolton South East MP and ex-criminal barrister Yasmin Qureshi said: “Delays to almost 50 per cent of trials in a two month period at Bolton Crown Court is yet more evidence of 13 years of managed decline under the Tories.

The Bolton News: Nearly half of trials were delayed at Bolton Crown Court for a period last yearNearly half of trials were delayed at Bolton Crown Court for a period last year (Image: Newsquest)

“With vast cuts to the Ministry of Justice, to the tune of 25 per cent, and the increased backlog, our justice system is crumbling.

“It is the victims who are losing out.”

The figures show that the 29 ineffective trials were a steep raised compared to just seven being delayed n 2019, the year before the pandemic.

Of the 31 trials that went ahead in 2022, 15 were ‘cracked’, meaning that either charges were dropped or the defendant pleaded guilty while 16 continued as planned.

The postponed trials last year coincident with a historic period in which, for the first time ever, barristers took part in an all-out strike in protest at what they say are years of underfunding and neglect.

Law Society of England and Wales president Lubna Shuja said: "The impact of decades of underinvestment in our criminal justice system is plain to see.

"The latest figures show huge backlogs in our criminal courts and unacceptably long delays for victims and defendants to access justice."

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But the Ministry of Justice says it has worked hard to reduce the backlog of cases all over the country and has introduced new measures aimed at speeding up the process.

A spokesperson said: "Whilst there was an increase in the crown court backlog during the barrister strikes, we have worked hard to reduce the caseload since.

"We are doing all we can to ensure courts are working at full capacity. Measures such as unlimited sitting days and increasing magistrates’ sentencing powers are helping restore the swift access to justice that victims deserve."