|Stockport Magistrates' Court (escaped)!|
The BBC published the list on Thursday 11th February and 86 will be closed out of the 91 closures proposed in the consultation document issued in October 2015 (previous post). Ten of the closures are to be in Wales. Of the 86 closures, 64 will close as proposed in the consultation. A further 22 will take place but with changes to the original proposals - (see the Regional responses for details).
The Law Society
commented that the closures will deepen inequalities in the justice system - Law Society 11th February - 'We are disappointed that the government is pressing ahead with the closure of so many courts. The majority of these closures will make it more difficult for a significant number of people to get to court, disproportionately affecting people living in rural areas, those with disabilities and lower income families. Combined with increases in court fees and reductions in eligibility for legal aid, many of the closures will serve to deepen the inequalities in the justice system between those who can and cannot afford to pay.'
The idea of "Problem-solving courts" is moving ahead with the setting up of a Working Group - see Terms of Reference. The working group will advise on the feasibility of possible pilot models for England and Wales in 2016-17. The idea behind these courts is to - (a) to achieve offender behaviour change through judicially supervised rehabilitation programmes; (b) encourage innovation in the use of judicial disposals and improve compliance with court orders; (c) deliver a swifter and more certain response to crime and reduce offending. For such a scheme in the Youth Court in the Blackburn (Lancashire) area see this November 2015 Ministry of Justice announcement.
The Economist - Smart Justice