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Fast-track justice for Olympics

Authorities plan to put people who commit offences linked to the Olympic Games in court within 24 hours.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the aim is to have suspects charged within hours of an offence, and that courts across London will sit earlier in the morning and into the early evening if needed, though there are no plans for overnight sittings.

Virtual "live-link" hearings will be held so that offenders are fast-tracked through the justice system, and offenders will be categorised administratively under a specially defined "Olympics offence", based on whether the crime was committed during the Games, its location and whether the accused or victim is a competitor, spectator or official. It will not be a new legal offence.

The plans have been drawn up by the CPS, along with the police, court service and other criminal justice agencies such as Victim Support. They will cover London as well as other areas where events are taking place.

Alison Saunders, chief crown prosecutor for London, told The Times: "Many people who come to the Olympics won't live here, so it is important that if offences are committed, we act quickly.

"People who commit offences on Tuesday will be in court on Wednesday ... we are learning the lessons of the summer riots (when offenders were processed within days rather than the usual weeks)."

Courts will sit extended hours where needed, from 8am to 1.30pm, then from 2.30pm to 7.30pm. Using live link will also avoid dealing with any traffic disruption which may ensue during the Games.

Ms Saunders said whether crime rates would rise or fall during the Games was impossible to predict.

She told the newspaper: "There is no direct comparison. At the Manchester Commonwealth Games, offending levels actually fell, perhaps because people were preoccupied and also because there was a feel-good factor."

The timescale for the Olympics offences began on May 1 and will run until September 30.

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