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Scottish Courts -COP26 contingency planning: further update

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As indicated in our announcement of 7 September 2021 the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) continues to review plans for the management of court operations during the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26) to be held in Glasgow – the biggest and most complex event ever held in Scotland. We continue to do that in discussion with key Justice Partners, at both national and local level.

To ensure we are as prepared as possible for the impact of a conference of an unprecedented nature, additional custody courts will now be scheduled to take place at Paisley, Hamilton and Falkirk Sheriff Courts on each Saturday during the conference period. This is in addition to the previously announced weekend custody courts in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

A summary of the arrangements we are putting in place to manage the impact of the conference on the courts is below. 

Impact of conference on the Courts

While the courts will aim to deal with as much business as possible throughout the conference period, there will be a significant impact on criminal business. Due to the high level of police officer deployment, officers will be unable to attend as witnesses for the sheriff court and Justice of the Peace court trials. As a result:

  • Sheriff summary trials and Justice of the Peace summary trials will not take place for a three-week period from 25 October to 12 November at all courts across Scotland. Some courts, however, will convert their trials to notional diets. These diets will still require the attendance of the accused, but witnesses will not be required to attend.  
  • Sheriff and jury trials will not take place for a two-week period from 1 November to 12 November at all sheriff courts across Scotland.
  • Procedural criminal courts will continue as normal during the conference and there is the potential for additional civil business to be dealt with over the conference period.
  • The High Court will continue to sit as programmed. However, given the proximity of the conference to Glasgow High Court and the potential for disruption, trials assigned for Glasgow during the two-week period from 1 November to 12 November will instead be heard at sheriff courts outwith Glasgow, namely Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Airdrie and Paisley.
  • In response to the anticipated additional need for custody court provision: additional weekend custody courts are scheduled to sit at:

                    o Glasgow on 30 and 31 October, 6, 7, 13 and 14 November

                    o Aberdeen on 30 October, 6 and 13 November

                    o Edinburgh on 30 October, 6 and 13 November

                    o Paisley on 6 and 13 November

                    o Hamilton on 6 and 13 November

                    o Falkirk on 6 and 13 November. 

The SCTS continues to actively review its planning and strategic response to the operational challenges posed by COP26 and key updates will continue to be provided as necessary.