Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting DN NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Outrage at government plan to turn a blind eye to justice in Dudley
4:33pm Tuesday 17th September 2013 in News
DUDLEY could become the largest town in Britain without a criminal court if government changes are approved.
The Ministry of Justice is proposing alterations to where defendants face trial in the Black Country, and their favoured plan would see Dudley magistrates only handling civil, family and tribunal cases.
If the department gets its way people would have to travel to Sandwell and Walsall for pre-trial hearings and Wolverhampton Magistrates Court would become the trial centre for the Black Country.
A consultation document on the plan from HM Courts and Tribunal Service, said: "Given the reduction in workload and resources and the need to increase efficiency and reduce cost across the criminal justice system, a review of the listing pattern across the Black Country is imperative."
Between April 2012 and March 2013 the number of cases dealt with by the courts in the Black Country fell by 20 per cent compared with the same period in the previous year and none of the region's courts hit their target of dealing with 75 per cent of cases within four weeks.
However the idea of no criminal court in Dudley has left the town's MP, Ian Austin, horrified and he has already begun a campaign to fight the changes.
Mr Austin said: "These plans are an outrage and should be dropped immediately. Dudley’s police station was closed at night despite opposition from thousands of local people, and now we’re set to lose our criminal court too.
“Dudley would end up the largest town in the UK without a criminal court when we should be moving more services into the town centre, not taking them away.
“It’s important justice is seen to be done locally, with local people seeing those who break the law in their community punished."
He added the plans will make it harder for victims of crime, magistrates, and journalists in Dudley to get involved in cases. He also warned that people working at the courts could be moved or made redundant.
The loss of a criminal court in Dudley would be another blow to justice being seen to be done in the borough following the closure of Halesowen Magistrates Court, which was announced in December 2010.
Dudley Council's cabinet member for community safety, cllr Steve Waltho, said: "People like to feel and touch justice, they want to see justice being done. It is important to people.
"There is still a lot of criminality in the borough, I would like to see it dealt with in Dudley."
The consultation runs until Monday October 21, for more information, or to respond to the consultation, email WMWJCO@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk with Black Country Listing Consultation in the subject field.
Comments are closed on this article.