The county's Police and Crime Commissioner has voice his concern at the "bottleneck" that has been caused by "closed" courts - amid fears victims of some crimes will not wait to give evidence.

Speaking at a meeting of the county council’s community safety and waste management cabinet panel on Thursday (September 17), David Lloyd said he was concerned that courts "for the most part, have been closed".

And he said it was "not good enough" that victims were now waiting for two years or more to obtain justice through the courts.

He said: "I am concerned the Covid impact has meant courts – for the most part – have been closed, though that’s not quite how it would be reported

"Certainly there’s a very very big bottleneck which means cases are not getting through the courts.

"That’s a real concern for me. Justice needs to be swift.

"It is just not good enough if we have to wait more than two years to get a day in court and that is what is now happening."

Mr Lloyd said that while he was concerned for all victims of crime, he was particularly concerned about the impact on victims of ‘intimate crime’.

He highlighted those who had been raped, who – he said – often reported the trial process as being ‘more traumatic’ than the crime.

He suggested a delay of up to three years may deter them from going through the justice system.

He stressed that there was support available through the Beacon hub, but he said, "I think the best support we can give is to make sure the court’s open".

Watford Observer:

Mr Lloyd acknowledged the Nightingale courts that have been set up, including a court in a county council building in Stevenage.

But he said this was not used for criminal cases and that it was the criminal courts that needed to be opened up.

He said he would be appearing before the Justice Select Committee, where he would continue to make the same case.

He also acknowledged that a number of additional buildings had been suggested to HMCTS as temporary courts in the county – including the former court in Bishops Stortford and the former Magistrates’ Court, in Watford.

He said: "I am not going to enter into to conjecture about why HMCTS might not want to use them.

"My understanding is that there is still a concern about social distancing and that, of course, is the main piece.

"And especially for criminal proceedings – crown court proceedings – they are particularly interested in ensuring that the judge is able to have access into and out safely, that there are appropriate facilities for the defendants, that witnesses can be kept apart from defendants . . . all of those things which you might not be able to do in a normal building.

"That said you can probably hear the frustration in my voice that we haven’t managed to do more."

Meanwhile, Mr Lloyd reported to the cabinet panel that there had been a 15 per cent reduction on overall crime in the county in the past six months, compared to previous years.

He reported that residential burglaries had gone down by 28 per cent and that shoplifting was ‘significantly down’.

However, he said drug possession – a crime that he said reflected proactive policing – was up by 10 per cent.

He also said that instances of anti-social behaviour had increased, pointing to ‘quite a lot’ of neighbours who had reported people breaching lockdown rules.

However, he stressed that most people had adhered to the rules and that the force in Hertfordshire had tried to ‘educate’ before enforcing