Jus­tice for courts Where is fund­ing for new premises?

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS - Martin SURL

We can­not al­low our county to slip off the ju­di­cial map Martin Surl

AS Del Boy might say, there was an el­e­ment of “déjà vu again” when the Chan­cel­lor pro­claimed the end of aus­ter­ity.

Al­most, but not quite, be­cause miss­ing from the an­nounce­ment of more fund­ing for the police, Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Service and prisons was any men­tion of the in­ad­e­quate court pro­vi­sion – an is­sue which is par­tic­u­larly rel­e­vant to Glouces­ter­shire and one I have writ­ten about be­fore.

The court com­mu­nity in Glouces­ter­shire has long been aware of the sub­stan­dard na­ture of the county’s courts with re­gards to fa­cil­i­ties and the neg­a­tive im­pact this has on lo­cal jus­tice.

Yet af­ter nu­mer­ous frus­trated at­tempts to se­cure new court premises or im­prove­ments to ex­ist­ing build­ings, Glouces­ter­shire is now one of just six coun­ties with only one mag­is­trates’ court and one of two coun­ties with the low­est num­ber of courts per pop­u­la­tion.

The con­se­quence is an ur­gent need for a new jus­tice cen­tre for the county.

As chair­man of the Glouces­ter­shire Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Board, I have been work­ing with part­ners to ex­plore op­tions for a new pur­pose­built jus­tice cen­tre fit for the 21st cen­tury.

I will be pub­lish­ing the re­sult of re­search car­ried out by my of­fice on the sub­ject soon.

Courts are a phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of the law and should be a fo­cus for civic pride. In hold­ing of­fend­ers to ac­count, courts should also be a source of re­as­sur­ance for vic­tims, some­where they go to gain sat­is­fac­tion for a wrong done to them. That is why it is equally im­por­tant that those sit­ting in judge­ment have ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge of the lo­cal­ity, a point forcibly made by for­mer Dis­trict Judge Jamie Tabor. As Police and Crime Com­mis­sioner, I can of­fer a lo­ca­tion on which to build, which is al­ready in pub­lic own­er­ship and avail­able.

While it would ad­dress all of the is­sues high­lighted in my re­port, I have also made it clear that if a bet­ter site be­came avail­able in, for in­stance, the cen­tre of Glouces­ter, that would also have my sup­port. I do not be­lieve this should be a de­ter­rent to what we are try­ing to achieve.

We can­not al­low our county to slip off the ju­di­cial map and I will be seek­ing the sup­port of the county’s MPS and other lead­ers to work to­wards the re­newal of the court es­tate for now and for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

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