Odeon cinemas will be screen sheriff court cases

Preparations are being made to restart sheriff and jury trials in Scotland.

Sheriff court juries will sit in the Odeon cinema

The courts, which were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, have been building on the success of the reopening of the High Courts, using a remote jury model, utilising Odeon cinemas.

Venues for remote centres for Glasgow, Strathkelvin, and Lothian and Borders sheriff courts have been confirmed.

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For Edinburgh and Livingston Sheriff Court, three juries will be based remotely in Lothian Road in Edinburgh. Trials set to run at Glasgow Sheriff Court will see six juries based remotely in Glasgow Quay on the banks of the River Clyde.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) hopes to expand into other venues soon, looking not just at cinemas as potential venues for juries.

High court trials juries were last week warned by a judge after one member was caught using a mobile phone and a second reportedly fell asleep during proceedings.

The cinemas will all have additional coronavirus precautions, including seating at distance and sanitizing stations throughout.

With the locations for the first centres confirmed, the SCTS is close to finalising contracts to allow the other four sheriffdoms - Grampian, Highland and Islands; North Strathclyde; South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway and Tayside, Central and Fife - to plan for a restart of sheriff and jury business in the new year.

Amanda Millar, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "We very much welcome being involved in this important work to restart sheriff court jury trials safely.

"It follows the success in restarting High Court trials using non-court buildings during the pandemic, an approach we suggested early on in the discussions about how to progress criminal court business.

"We will continue to engage in the work to reduce the current backlog in the courts, which will also include addressing the needs of victims, witnesses and accused people who have been waiting for a date for trials they are involved in."

Tony Lenehan, from the Faculty of Advocates, said: "The Faculty of Advocates looks forward to working with the group to expand into the Sheriff Court the impressive progress SCTS has already made in the High Court with remote jury trials."

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