The Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley has blasted the government’s decision to close the Magistrates’ Court in Newbury.
Anthony Stansfeld was speaking in response to the announcement last week that the West Berkshire (Newbury) Magistrates’ Court will close at any time between now and June.
Mr Stansfeld said that he was “disappointed” with the Ministry of Justice’s decision to close the court.
He said: “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.
“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 be 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.”
He added that plans for public CCTV links to some courts were premature and went on to say: “The decision to close [Newbury, Aylesbury and Bicester] 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.”