People accused of crimes linked to the London Olympics could find themselves in court quicker than they expected, as plans for a fast-track system are drawn up.
The August 2011 riots sparked more than just a series of unanswerable questions on society; they also provided a precedent for dealing with offenders quickly. Between August last year and February this year, some 2700 people have appeared in court when previously that volume of hearings could have taken years rather than months.
Having decided that justice is best summarily served, the CPS have said that the courts will sit for longer hours — 8am to 1.30pm and 2.30pm to 7.30pm, while some courts will also sit on Saturdays. Video links will also be used to speed things up. CPS chief prosecutor for London Alison Saunders said:
“Many people who come to the Olympics won’t live here, so it is important that if offences are committed, we act quickly. People who commit offences on Tuesday will be in court on Wednesday … we are learning the lessons of the summer riots.”
These measures have been proposed based on crimes such as ticket touting and pick-pocketing, though muggings and street disorder will also attract a fast-track court appearance. While new offences aren’t being invented to cover crimes committed during the Olympics, the location of the crime and whether the accused or victim is a competitor, spectator or official will influence whether a crime falls into the Olympic category.
Obviously, as with the riots, there are concerns about rushing the process. We also anticipate an increase in the severity of sentences to act as a deterrent and demonstrate to the world that London isn’t a criminal’s paradise.
Photo by firstnameunknown in the Londonist Flickr pool.