Call for wider efficiency drive as Olympics-related cases speed to resolution
One of the notable aspects of last summer’s response to the riots was the speed at which the courts processed the unprecedented amount of cases that arose.
With a fast-track system agreed for London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics-related cases, criminal courts have been moving almost as quickly this year.
Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service has so far listed 84 fast-track cases at London magistrates’ courts. Of these, 36 have already been dealt with in first instance.
They include Brazilian tourist Cezar Navajas, who was fined £300 for ticket touting. Other defendants up on Olympic-related allegations have been charged with offences such as using false ID documentation, theft, burglary and public order – such as three cycling protestors involved in a mass demo outside the Olympic Park.
The Ministry of Justice’s definition of an Olympic crime is anything that has an impact on the delivery or image of the Games. Of the 84 cases, 28 have been serious enough to be sent to the crown court, although 10 were disposed of at this juncture. That leaves 18 cases still progressing through the crown courts and 20 ongoing at magistrates.
Meanwhile, police in Manchester are hunting thieves who have stolen gold medal-winning cyclist Philip Hindes’ bike and Transport for London has revealed that it has made £845,000 so far from 6,500 motorists paying £130 Olympic Lane fines.
Yet the Met says the London 2012 feel-good factor has seen crime fall.
To date 10,500 Olympics officers have made 253 arrests, mainly for ticket touting, 21 for drugs, 16 for assault, 11 for theft, one for a bomb hoax and one for swimming in the Thames.
Among the high-profile Olympic arrests that have not brought charges were Tom Daley’s teenage Twitter troll and drunken Aussie rower Joshua Booth.
Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said the swift justice showed the flexibility of the system which he expects to continue through the Paralympics.
He added: “In the future we plan to continue this efficiency drive by rolling out digital working across the system, removing unnecessary bureaucracy and maximising the use of video technology to allow more cases to be heard without delay.”