SWATHES of Greenock Sheriff Court trials are set to be postponed indefinitely under new guidelines drawn up in response to the rapid spread of the new variant strain of coronavirus.

Summary trials — those not involving juries — where accused people have not been remanded in custody are to be 'administratively adjourned' along with a number of procedural callings of cases.

Custody trials at summary and sheriff and jury level will proceed.

The new measures, which are anticipated to cut the overall number of trials during lockdown by as much as 75 per cent, come into effect today.

In a statement, the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service said: "On Friday we discussed the rapid spread of the new Covid-19 variant with senior public health officials in the Scottish Government.

"With their advice and the recognition that we have taken all the right steps in making our buildings safe, we have determined that we should focus on the most essential business to reduce travel, overall footfall and physical interaction in our courts and therefore support the public health response at this critical time.

"As a result all our courts will remain open but we are taking immediate steps to reduce the numbers attending from Tuesday."

The vast majority of all civil business at the sheriff court will continue to be conducted remotely.

The new arrangements will remain in place until February 28 but they will be kept under regular review.