The recent announcement that the government has triggered what is known as ‘Operation Early Dawn’ for our justice system is shocking but not surprising.

‘Operation Early Dawn’ is an emergency measure that could see defendants kept in police custody for an extra night instead of being brought to court because the prisons are full.

The government argues that this does not mean that our prisons are full, despite the fact ‘Operation Early Dawn’ is only utilised in such a scenario.

As a former barrister prosecuting some of the most complex cases in the country and as a newly appointed member of the Justice Select Committee, I have first-hand experience of how the criminal justice system functions. I also speak to my former contemporaries working in the system – clerks, prison officers, barristers and probation officers among others – who all agree: our justice system is at breaking point.

I regularly hear anecdotal evidence of prisoners being driven around and around in police cars because there is nowhere to place them. I hear of delays stretching into months and sometimes years for court hearings even for violent crimes.

We are seeing many turning up to court only to see cases delayed and victims turned away. Justice delayed is justice denied. I believe everyone has the right to a trial as quickly as possible. We cannot tolerate a system where people are left on tenterhooks for months or even years. This is the right thing both for alleged victims and for alleged perpetrators.

The anecdotes are backed up by the data. Last year, for example, there were 3867 cases outstanding in Greater Manchester. I raised this figures repeatedly with Government Ministers and called for action but things have only got worse. Without drastic intervention with investment coupled with serious reforms, I expect that by the end of this year we see the outstanding cases breach 4000.

We now have 16000 people across the country in custody awaiting trial.

Operation Early Dawn is a symptom of a chronic lack of investment in criminal justice. We cannot continue like this.

The government is stalling justice and leaving victims in limbo because of the mess they have created.

The justice system is always a balancing act. The government has failed to invest in all areas. We need a stronger rehabilitation programme and real investment in reintegrating those who are no longer a threat to society. We also though need to build more prison capacity to house serious violent offenders. The government has failed to do this over the last 14 years. It is going to take some real work to untangle the mess and I will be focused on this on the Justice Select Committee in the coming months.