Salford theatre to host real criminal trials

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By Thomas Connelly on

Eight new ‘Nightingale Courts’ announced as part of plans to address COVID-19 impact on justice system

The Lowry Theatre — image credit: Nathan Chandler

A theatre in Salford which was forced to close its doors in response to the coronavirus pandemic is to be turned temporarily into a real working court.

The Lowry Theatre has been selected as one of eight new ‘Nightingale Courts’ to help tackle the huge backlog of cases created by the pandemic. The eye-catching venue will hear non-custodial crime cases, as well as civil, family and tribunals work, the government confirmed yesterday in a statement.

The move will provide a much needed source of income for the theatre and art gallery and help support its planned programme of Christmas shows, including The Gruffalo and Six, the musical retelling the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII. In January, the building also played host to Legal Cheek‘s LegalEdCon North.

Other venues announced yesterday include the Jury’s Inn Middlesbrough and the Hilton Hotel in York. A further five sites located in Bristol, Cirencester, Chester, Liverpool and Winchester, will be confirmed in the coming weeks, the government said.

The Lowry Theatre — image credit: Nathan Chandler

The Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC MP said: “We are beginning to see positive signs thanks to the hard work of everyone working in our system — with the number of outstanding cases in magistrates’ courts now falling as a result of the measures we have introduced.”

He continued:

“But we must keep going if we are to get our courts back up to speed. These additional eight Nightingale Courts will further boost our efforts to increase capacity — reducing delays and delivering speedier justice for all.”

The government announced its first temporary courts earlier this summer, including Middlesbrough Town Hall, the Knights’ Chamber within the grounds of Peterborough Cathedral, and the Ministry of Justice’s headquarters in London.

North of the border they’re taking similar steps, with the Scottish government announcing plans earlier this month to host socially-distanced jury trials in cinemas.

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