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Court / Future jury trials to be held south due to prison escort staffing challenges

Lerwick Sheriff Court. Photo: Shetland News

FUTURE Lerwick jury trials will be heard on the Scottish mainland due to ongoing staffing challenges with prisoner escort provider GEOAmey.

An order of court issued by Sheriff Principal Pyle requires new jury trials which would have called at Stornoway, Lerwick, Kirkwall, Portree and Lochmaddy sheriff courts to call at Inverness, Aberdeen or Peterhead sheriff courts instead.

For Lerwick, future jury trials will transfer to Aberdeen Sheriff Court or Peterhead Sheriff Court.

Existing scheduled jury trials at Lerwick and Stornoway and all other court business will continue to call at their respective courts.

There are jury trials already scheduled in Lerwick in September and November.

The court order was put in effect from Tuesday (18 July) until further notice.

A GEOAmey spokesperson said there has been a challenging labour market across the country.

“We welcome this operational change whilst we continue to have discussions with all stakeholder partners on how to fulfil our shared ambition to improve service to the courts and broader judicial system,” they said.

“The challenging labour market throughout the UK has had an impact on our recruitment and staff retention, and there can be significant logistical challenges when persons in custody require individual supervision and travel to remote locations.

“We are committed to improving our service and working with our partners as we overcome our collective challenges to ensure the smooth running of our courts and judicial system.”

The provision of jury trials had only recently returned to Lerwick Sheriff Court after Covid restrictions on social distancing placed them in larger premises on the mainland.

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