The Ministry of Justice have said that 7 court buildings that are either underused, dilapidated or too close to another will be closed, with money raised reinvested into modernising the justice system.
- Banbury Magistrates’ and County Court
- Blackfriars Crown Court
- Chorley Magistrates’ Court
- Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court
- Maidenhead Magistrates’ Court
- Northallerton Magistrates’ Court
- Wandsworth County Court
Services will be moved to alternative locations as close as possible to the closing court.
In 2017/17 Northallerton handled 1256 workload hours at a cost of £140K.
I believe this is the wrong decision taken at the wrong time. We will be looking very carefully at the decision and the process that has led to it. Access to justice is hugely important for rural communities who too often feel their views are not heard, and the closure of Northallerton Magistrates Court will reinforce that perception, particularly the proposal to move our dedicated traffic court to West Yorkshire.
While the promise to invest in video links is welcome, and something I called for in my response to the consultation, there is too little detail in the proposal to assess whether this will truly help victims of crime. There is also no promise of wider investment in other North Yorkshire courts nor further technology to support the provision of justice in areas where infrastructure is a challenge. I have a strong business case for mobile and static live links and the Ministry of Justice need to engage with us on this before they make any further decisions.
I continue to believe that not enough attention has been paid to North Yorkshire’s rurality and geography in making this decision, and believe it will disproportionately affect the access of elderly, disabled and remote communities in this area to justice.
Ultimately, if the decision to close Northallerton Magistrates Court does proceed, it is vital it does not happen before safeguards are in place to ensure justice can be done and seen to be done for residents across North Yorkshire. I will be asking the Minister to ensure that is the case.