Published: 11:14, 08 April 2009
| Updated: 11:14, 08 April 2009
by Keith Hunt
A judge has spoken of his despair at how the "slashing" of court budgets has led to a decline in standards.
Judge Philip Statman spoke out after a lawyer complained that a sex offender was kept waiting a long time while staff could be found to escort a jury to court to deliver verdicts.
Defence barrister Richard Travers said at Maidstone Crown Court: "That is very hard, not only for the complainants, it is extremely hard on the defendant who is awaiting verdicts.
"That period is then prolonged and people are sitting around waiting. I don't mean to apportion blame - I suspect the difficulty arises due to lack of funding and a lack of staff."
Judge Statman replied: "I am of the generation who can remember each court having dedicated ushers and dedicated staff. Those days are long gone. They are never going to return, so we have to grin and bear it.
"I sympathise both with victims waiting and also with the defendant, but there is genuinely nothing more we can do. If you saw the way the court budget has time and again been slashed, it is amazing we can get someone to bring the judge into court.
"I am sure in the near future, no doubt, the judge is going to have to go outside to find witnesses and swear them in before we can go any further. That is the state we have reached."
The judge added: "I hope my remarks will not be considered intemperate."