GEOAmey woes continue to slow justice in Scotland’s courts

GEOAmey woes continue to slow justice in Scotland's courts

Problems with Scotland’s prison transport service are continuing to have a “significant impact” on the legal system, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) has warned.

Prisoner transport firm GEOAmey, the company contracted to transport prisoners and young people in custody, has blamed a “challenging labour market” for a lack of workers.

The shortages have caused delays in criminal trials and court hearings and have meant cases can not be heard in some parts of the country. The Law Society of Scotland described the problem in July as “disgraceful” and said there appeared to be “no end in sight”.

SCTS said that the late arrival of those in custody from cells to court rooms was being “compounded” by similar delays in transporting those from prisons to court hearings.

“This is leading to the cancellation of hearings, trial delays and courts sitting into the evening,” it said.

“All of this is having a significant impact on the running of our criminal courts and the recovery programme, including the planned reinstatement of sheriff and jury trials to the island courts.

“In addition to the impact on court business, we are equally concerned about the wellbeing of all staff working in courts, witnesses, the judiciary, legal professionals and the accused.”

It added: “Consequently, we are urgently assessing options and working with the Scottish government and justice organisations to help alleviate this critical situation, including accelerating the use of virtual custodies to reduce the movement of those in custody.”

A Scottish government spokesperson said: “It is clear that the current performance of the GeoAmey contract is not working in the way it should and causing disruption for courts and for the Scottish Prison Service.

“All relevant partners are meeting imminently to consider actions that will affect a change to this service so that the courts no longer face the current disruption to their service.”

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