In the Media

London 2012 Olympics: Offenders to face 'instant justice' under new court plans

PUBLISHED June 26, 2012

The Crown Prosecution Service has vowed to learn the lessons of last summer's riots to deal with criminals swiftly, ensuring they are charged within hours.

Prosecutors will be on call 24 hours a day to assist, with courts sitting between 8am and 7.30pm, according to plans disclosed by The Times newspaper. The timescale for offences began on May 1 and will run to September 30.

Those alleged to have committed crimes will be assessed under a defined "Olympics offence", dependent on whether it happened during the Games, at a venue or involved an athlete, spectator or official.

Offenders will also be "beamed" into virtual courts in Camberwell and Bromley using a live video link, to save the time and expense of transporting prisoners and minimise traffic disruption.

Alison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, said: "Many people who come to the Olympics won't live here, so it is important that if offences are committed we act quickly.

"We are learning the lessons of the summer riots."

Outlining plans to extend working hours of courts, she said: "We are really fitting in a whole extra sitting day."

The plans were drawn up by the CPS, with contributions from police, courts and victim groups. They are believed to apply all areas where Olympic events are taking place, including London and Weymouth and Portland, Dorset, which will host the sailing.

They are understood to target lower level offences such as mugging, pick-pocketing and ticket touting, which may increase as crowds of tourists head to British shores.

Ms Saunders emphasised it was not possible to predict whether overall crime rates would rise or fall during the Games.

However organised crime gangs are already reported to be transporting coach loads of Eastern European migrants, particularly Romanians, to work pre-allocated pitches as pickpockets, beggars or prostitutes.