Statement on Magistrates Courts closures

PCC's reaction to Newbury, Bicester and Aylesbury court closures

Statement from the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld:

"I am disappointed that the Ministry of Justice has decided to close three magistrates Courts in the Thames Valley, those in Aylesbury, Bicester and Newbury. It has made this decision in spite of the response to its own consultation showing overwhelming opposition from local Councils, MPs, Magistrates, and many other interested parties across the Thames Valley, including myself as Police and Crime Commissioner. Furthermore, the decision flies in the face of the Ministry’s own pledge to put the victim first.

"It will result in more failed cases as victims and witnesses will have to travel long distances to get to courts. It will waste a considerable amount of police time getting officers to courts. It takes local justice away from the areas in which crimes are committed. Local justice will not be seen to done as the local press will not turn up to cases heard in courts many miles away. It will prevent good people becoming Magistrates if they have to commute long distances to attend cases. It does nothing for the victims of crime or the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

"It is true that proposed CCTV links to Courts will overcome some problems, but until that system is up and running properly we will not know how effective it will be, and in many cases it will not be possible. The alternative suggestion to close the Court buildings, but retain the function locally, and use Council offices or some other venue to host Court hearings, does not seem to have been looked at.

"The decision to close these three Courts may save the Ministry of Justice money in the short term, but it will cost the Police money, do nothing for victims and witnesses, and is likely to result in yet more failed cases. It would seem to waste money rather than save it, at the expense of local criminal justice."

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