Ministry of Justice cost-cutting prompts closure of 86 more courthouses

Ministers say the courts facing closure are being used on average for less than two days a week

Nigel Morris
Deputy Political Editor
@NigelpMorris
Thursday 11 February 2016 23:41
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Critics are warning that the closure of courthouses will increase the number of people without easy access to courts
Critics are warning that the closure of courthouses will increase the number of people without easy access to courts

Another 86 courthouses across England and Wales are to be shut in the latest round of cost-cutting by the Ministry of Justice.

Ministers said the courts facing closure were being used on average for less than two days a week and many were unsuited to the use of modern technology. But critics warned that the move would increase the number of people without easy access to courts and tribunals.

The announcement by the Justice Minister, Shailesh Vara, comes four years after the closure of 140 courts.

He said: “Maintaining our underused and dilapidated court buildings costs the taxpayer £500m a year, but some courts sit for less than half the time available. This is simply unsustainable.”

He said 97 per cent of people would still be within an hour’s drive of their nearest court building.

Some cash from selling buildings will be put towards a four-year programme of investment into the installation of IT systems and wifi in courts.

Originally the MoJ planned to close 91 of the 460 court buildings in England and Wales, but five – in St Helens, Stockport, West Cumbria, Bath and Carmarthen – have been reprieved.

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