[spb_text_block pb_margin_bottom=”no” pb_border_bottom=”no” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]
Under new changes imposed by the Ministry of Justice 81 Courts will close nationally over the course of the next two years.
Included in those is Shrewsbury Magistrates Court based on Preston Street, Abbey Foregate which is set to be vacant from June 2016. The Court was built in 1994 and has four courtrooms and thirteen cells.
Cases in Shropshire are currently split between Shrewsbury and Telford. Following the closure of Shrewsbury Magistrates Court all hearings for Shropshire will be heard in Telford meaning that regardless of location, victims, defendants and witnesses will now be expected to be at Telford Magistrates Court for 9:30am.
There are concerns that the closure will make access to justice more remote and will have an increase on travel time and cost, especially for those who are relying on public transport. It is thought those witnesses and victims living in rural areas, from lower income families or disabilities will be affected the most.
Despite the nationwide apprehensions the Government are asserting that the closures will still allow for effective access to justice and a high quality service. They state the closure of the Courts are as a result of the Court only sitting just over a third of the time available. It is said that from 2014 to 2015 Shrewsbury Magistrates’ Court was only sitting for 28% of its available time.
The Government claim that it’s not all about proximity to Court and that there are relatively small changes to estimated travel times which can be dealt with on a case to case basis if required.
Justice Minister, Shailesh Vara when announcing stated that ‘changes to the estate were vital if we are to modernise a system which everyone accepts is unwieldy, inefficient, slow, expensive to maintain and unduly bureaucratic’.