YORK Crown Court had a backlog of 407 cases in March this year - including 81 cases relating to alleged violent attacks and 51 for sex offences.

However, delays in cases caused by the Covid-19 pandemic are less serious in York than elsewhere in England and Wales, latest figures from the Ministry of Justice reveal.

At the start of the first lockdown the court had 304 outstanding cases.

Twelve months later, after a complete closure of the building lasting months, followed by reduced court lists to allow time for cleaning between cases, the backlog was 407, an increase of 34 per cent.

Across England and Wales, 59,500 cases were waiting to be dealt with by crown courts at the end of March, an increase of 45 per cent on the previous year.

Charities fear delays at courts across England and Wales could stop people reporting crime in future, while legal bodies fear they could even impact the outcome of a trial.

The Law Society of England and Wales, which represents solicitors, and the Bar Council, which represents barristers, say the pandemic has only compounded decades of underfunding and court closures.

Courts started shutting down from mid-March.

All trials stopped and York Crown Court was closed completely until the early summer, though judges continued to hear cases remotely involving defendants in custody.

At one point, the Recorder of York, Judge Sean Morris, estimated it would take a year to clear the trials backlog.

York Crown Court building reopened for non-trial hearings of bail cases in early summer and a few weeks later for trials, initially only in one of its courtrooms.

Both courtrooms have been holding trials since last autumn

Shorter trials are now likely to be heard in six to eight months.

However, trials involving more than two defendants and longer trials are moved to other court centres, where they face longer delays.

Appeals from York and North Yorkshire magistrates' courts are now being heard once a week in the Nightingale court at The Hilton Hotel on nearby Tower Street.