Criminal trials involving a jury are due to finally restart in Kirkcaldy and Perth, using cinema complexes in different towns.
While the Covid-19 lockdown has led to a huge backlog in criminal cases across Scotland, moves to complete the restart of jury trials in every Sheriffdom in the country have been welcomed by the Crown Office, solicitors and members of the public in general.
The first jury trials for months will restart at Kirkcaldy, Perth and Falkirk Sheriff Courts on Monday, linked to jury centres at Dunfermline and Dundee Odeons, while trials at Greenock and Dumbarton will be linked to remote jury centres in the Odeon Braehead in Glasgow.
David Fraser, executive director of court operations at the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, moved to reassure any fears potential jurors and witnesses may have.
“We recognise the concern and impact on the accused, victims and witnesses of any further delay in jury trials,” he said.
“The remote jury centres were designed to operate during Covid-19, ensuring jury trials can continue while restrictions are in place.
“The jury centres are large ventilated spaces, with physical distancing for jurors at all times and are fully equipped with all the necessary precautions of face coverings, hand washing facilities and sanitisers.
“While we know that there are concerns at this time, we have strictly followed Public Health Scotland’s guidance to make these new centres as safe as possible.
“Having juries remote from courts enables physically distanced trials to proceed with the same health, safety and security measures available to all court users.
“Our videos available on our website illustrate well all the measures jurors, witnesses and participants can expect and we would urge those called to serve as jurors or as witnesses to attend.
“Restrictions on travelling or attendance do not apply to those attending our courts or remote jury centres.”
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ayr, Paisley, Kilmarnock, Hamilton and Airdrie Sheriff Courts are already linked to remote jury centres based at Odeon cinemas in Edinburgh, Glasgow Quay, Ayr, Braehead and East Kilbride.
Dundee Sheriff Court restarted solemn trials linked to the remote jury centre at the Odeon Cinema last week, while jury trials will also get underway in Inverness on February 8 linked to the remote jury centre at the Eden Court complex.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court and Aberdeen High Court will recommence jury trials on February 15 linked to the remote jury centre at the Vue cinema complex.