Jus­tice cen­tre set to launch as part of £1bn re­vamp

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Tam­lyn Jones Busi­ness Re­porter

ANEW le­gal cen­tre em­ploy­ing around 300 staff is set to be cre­ated in Birm­ing­ham as part of a £1 bil­lion moderni­sa­tion of the court ser­vice.

The Govern­ment has an­nounced plans to cre­ate two Courts & Tri­bunals Ser­vice Cen­tres which will bring to­gether ex­per­tise in man­ag­ing court and tri­bunal cases.

The Birm­ing­ham base will be housed in an ex­ist­ing court ser­vice build­ing in Ha­gley Road while a sec­ond cen­tre will open in Stokeon-Trent, with each em­ploy­ing around 300 staff.

Many of the roles are due to be taken up by ex­ist­ing court ser­vice em­ploy­ees.

The Min­istry of Jus­tice said it was try­ing to make jus­tice sim­pler and swifter by bring­ing more ser- vices on­line and mak­ing courts and tri­bunals eas­ier to ac­cess.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic will be able to ac­cess ser­vices such as ap­ply­ing for a divorce, mak­ing a ben­e­fit ap­peal and en­ter­ing a plea for a speed­ing of­fence.

The two cen­tres will also com­bine and share best prac­tice and knowl­edge and are due to open in 2019.

Jus­tice min­is­ter Do­minic Raab said: “These new ad­min­is­tra­tive cen­tres will make sure we de­liver bet­ter ser­vices for those us­ing the courts sys­tem while de­liv­er­ing bet­ter bang for the tax­pay­ers’ buck.

“The move is part of our £1 bil­lion re­form pro­gramme to digi­tise the jus­tice sys­tem - mak­ing it more sen­si­tive for wit­nesses, more con­ve­nient for other users and bet­ter value for pub­lic money.”

Last year, HM Courts & Tri­bunals Ser­vice dealt with more than 4.1 mil­lion crim­i­nal, civil, fam­ily and tri­bunal cases. The ser­vice said that, as more cen­tres opened, many of the en­quiries re­lat­ing to these cases would be chan­nelled through the new Courts & Tri­bunals Ser­vice Cen­tres.

The £1 bil­lion in­vest­ment is made up of £855 mil­lion to mod­ernise and digi­tise the courts and £240 mil­lion to de­liver a fully con­nected crim­i­nal court­room.

The court ser­vice said it was also chang­ing the way it col­lected fines to make it faster and more ef­fec­tive as its staff were cur­rently “ham­pered by a sys­tem which was cre­ated in 1989”, it said in a state­ment.

“The new op­er­at­ing model will im­prove ef­fi­ciency, re­duce de­lays and in­crease the amount of fines col­lected,” it added.

“At present, staff are spread out in over 50 bases across the coun­try - we will con­sol­i­date all of their knowl­edge and ex­per­tise by mov­ing them into three.”

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