Preston North End’s Deepdale stadium has become the latest English football ground to be utilised as a ‘Nightingale’ court as part of efforts to help with a backlog of cases for the criminal justice system as a result of COVID-19.
With May 17 still set to be the earliest date from which fans of the Championship football club can return to Deepdale as part of the Government’s reopening roadmap, the stadium is set to be utilised for non-custodial criminal cases for at least three months, according to the LancsLive website. This will free up space for more jury trials at Preston Crown Court.
Deepdale’s Invincibles Pavilion and Sir Tom Finney Stand will be utilised for the Nightingale court. The addition of such facilities is part of a £113m (€131.1m/$157.6m) Government investment to aid courts and tribunals during the pandemic.
“We are determined to deliver swifter justice for people across Preston and this new Nightingale Court will boost those efforts,” Courts Minister, Lord Wolfson QC, said, according to the Lancashire Evening Post newspaper.
“This is part of our action to tackle the impact of the pandemic on our courts and reduce delays for victims. As a result, the number of outstanding cases in the magistrates’ is falling and the number of trials being listed in the Crown Court increases each week.”
A Preston North End spokesperson told the BBC: “Given that there has been very limited use of the stadium in the last year or so, it is good to have an activity such as the courts running from the premises and making good use of what is an iconic building.”
University of Bolton Stadium, home of Preston’s Lancastrian rival, League Two team Bolton Wanderers, would also be used as a temporary court house, it was revealed last month.