To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the backlog in Nottinghamshire's family courts.
22 September 2021
The protection of children, particularly those who are most vulnerable, is a priority for this government and this has never been more important than during this period. The family courts were quick to respond to the pandemic and I am extremely grateful for the dedication of family justice professionals at this unprecedented time.
Record levels of judicial sitting days have been listed at the family court in Nottingham throughout the pandemic and these high levels of sittings continue. The court is utilising the new powers introduced via Practice Direction 36, which enables suitable cases to be dealt with via alternative methods other than a court hearing.
In March this year, we launched the £1m Family Mediation Voucher Scheme, to encourage and support separating parents to explore mediation before coming to court. In August, ministers confirmed an additional £800,000 would go towards the scheme, helping around 2000 more families. We want to ensure that every parent is able to resolve their case in the most effective way, including through mediation where safe and appropriate.
We continue to focus on reducing the outstanding caseload by investing in more judicial sitting days and increasing the overall level of disposals. Cases with the most significant safeguarding issues remain our priority, and where suitable, cases are being heard remotely to continue maximising our use of our estate.