WillisPalmer launches Remote Assessment Service

WillisPalmer have launched a Remote Assessment Service to deliver social work assessments safely during COVID pandemic.

Read more
Make an Enquiry
Contact Us

MoJ announces court closures

Ministry of Justice announces that 86 courts are set to close following consultation

Eighty six courts are set to close following a government consultation, the Ministry of Justice has announced.

Five courts have been given a reprieve following a consultation on proposals to close 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales, announced by Shailesh Vara, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Courts and Legal Aid in July last year.

Vara said any decision to close a court was not taken lightly: “It is on this basis that we have made a decision to close 86 court and tribunal buildings and retain five. 64 sites will close as proposed in the consultation, with a further 22 closures taking place but with changes to the original proposals. These changes, many suggested by respondents, include the establishment of suitable alternative venues, such as the use of local civic buildings; or different venues in the HM Courts & Tribunals Service estate to those originally proposed.”

The consultation followed an announcement in March 2014 by the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and the Senior President of Tribunals of a programme of reform for the courts and tribunals.

The HM Courts & Tribunals Estate Strategy included plans to reduce the current and future cost of running the estate and reduce the reliance on buildings with poor facilities and to remove from the estate buildings that are difficult and expensive either to improve or to upgrade. In addition it aimed to improve the efficient use of the estate by seeking to improve whole system efficiency, taking advantage of modernised communication methods (Wi-Fi and video links) and adopting business processes to increase efficiency and effectiveness and increase the efficient use of the estate wherever possible irrespective of current administrative boundaries.

The programme has technology and the principle of proportionality at its heart and stated that straightforward, transactional matters (such as the administration of probate or pleading guilty to a minor offence and paying a fine) would be dealt with using digital technology to make the processes straightforward.

The programme aimed for Civil, Family and Tribunal hearing centres to move to a system where more cases can be resolved more quickly and efficiently without the need for a formal hearing. Technology would also be used to reduce the costs of the criminal justice system by not requiring prisoners to be transported to court for bail hearings, or the police to take full days away from work to sit in a courtroom.

The consultation proposed closure of:

  • 57 magistrates’ courts
  • 19 county courts
  • Two crown courts
  • Four tribunal hearing centres
  • Nine combined courts

The consultation revealed that 56 of the 110 national responses were opposed to the closure proposals citing concerns around Access to Justice and accessing courts and concerns over the accuracy of the data in the consultation document and Impact Assessment.

Following the consultation, the Lord Chancellor has decided to retain St Helens County Court, Stockport Magistrates’ Court and County Court, West Cumbria Magistrates’ Court and County Court, Bath Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Family Court and Carmarthen Civil, Family, Tribunal and Probate Hearing Centre in Wales.

The MoJ said 64 sites will close as per the original consultation, however, a further 22 closures will also take place but with amendments to the original proposals.

Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said: “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.

“We welcome that five of the closures will not be going ahead and acknowledge that the government intends to make changes to its proposals for 22 courts following evidence submitted by our members. We look forward to continuing discussions about the revised proposals in these areas to ensure that access to justice problems are mitigated.

“No matter who you are, no matter where you live, everyone in England and Wales must be able to access legal advice and the justice system,” he concluded.

The consultation response is available here.

Make an enquiry

A multi-disciplinary organisation providing independent, high quality social work and psychological services. Contact us with your requirements and speak to a member of our team who will help you today.
Make an Enquiry

Knowledge & Resources

Keep abreast of the latest news in the children's services sector.

Referrals to children’s services rise following first lockdown

30/11/2020

More than 600 vulnerable children a day were referred to local authorities’ children’s services in the months following the first lockdown, it has emerged.

The County Councils Network reported that 630 young people a day were referred to children’s services in the months after the first lockdown, which began in March 2020, as local authorities reported [...]

Read Full Story

More court days for family cases this year despite restrictions

26/11/2020

There have been more court sitting days taking place on family cases this year than in any previous year, despite the lockdown, the president of the family courts division has said.

In his ‘View from the Chambers,’ Andrew McFarlane said this level of activity is necessary as it is not possible to conduct as many cases [...]

Read Full Story

Half of Youth Offending Services require improvement

25/11/2020

Improvements are required in more than half of the Youth Offending Services inspected this year, according to the HM Inspectorate of Probation.

Of the 16 Youth Offending Services inspected, eight required improvement while one, Cardiff, was rated inadequate.

Chief Inspector Justin Russell said: “It is disappointing that the overall quality of the youth offending services we have [...]

Read Full Story
Children First is an online resource for professionals working with children presented by WillisPalmer, providing you with the latest news, features and interviews.
Subscribe Today
Delivering a diverse, reliable range of services to children and their families across the UK
D1, Parkside, Knowledge Gateway, Nesfield Road, Colchester, Essex CO4 3ZL
Contact Us
closechevron-downbars linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram