Magistrate reports ease in court backlog
The backlog of cases currently being experienced by the island’s judicial system could soon be a thing of the past.
According to Magistrate Douglas Frederick, while there was still a worrisome backlog, these cases were being dealt with speedily.
The experienced court official praised the work of the Royal Barbados Police Force, saying it was their improved efforts which were now leading to cases being dealt with in a timelier manner.
“The new approach is that with all the pressure that has been put [on the judicial system], what is happening now is that the police seem to be doing a little bit more to get the files together,” Frederick told Barbados TODAY this afternoon shortly after sitting in the District ‘A’ Magistrates Court.
“They’re a little bit more diligent I think in terms of getting the files, so the backlog is slowly reducing. Plus, with the mediation which the Chief Justice introduced, that has been helping too with the protection orders. So it is easing us a bit.”
The Magistrate admitted that what was also helping the cause was the fact that he had seen a significant reduction in the number of new cases for the month of December.
He said usually around this time of the year, there tended to be an increase in the number of shoplifting cases particularly, ahead of the Christmas season.
This year though, he reported a decrease in such cases.
“I find that there is usually a trend where around this time of the year we have more new cases, but I have found that this year there has been a drop off.
“All like now you would be getting people with new cases like shoplifting and things like that, but I have seen a reduction in cases like that and it augurs well for reducing the amount of cases that we have,” Frederick insisted.
“It also says something about the society, in terms of people taking a different approach to dealing with circumstances and things like that and that is good.”
Only three months ago, Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson revealed steps were being taken to help ease the backlog and to reduce the delay in rendering judicial decisions.
These included the proposed appointment of three new judges, six new judicial assessments, the removal from the computer system of discontinued cases that still registered as active and the abolition of preliminary inquiries.
In making the announcement at the start of the judicial year, Sir Marston revealed that a bill to abolish preliminary inquiries would first have to go before Parliament, but until then one magistrate would hear all preliminary inquiries.
The Chief Justice added that the recommendations to appoint the three prospective judges had been approved by Government and they would take up their positions as soon as they were appointed and undergo training.
“Once they are appointed, one of the three will be taken off the roster each month so they can use the time to write decisions,” Sir Marston stated at the time.
The head judge said more than 2,000 cases were still logged as active, but had in fact been discontinued.