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Court closures will be a major blow to Scottish justice

11 June 2013 | tagged News release

Access to justice in Scotland will be harmed following a narrow vote today, Tuesday 11 June, by the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee to accept recommendations to close 17 Scottish courts, says the Law Society of Scotland.

The Law Society said that closing ten sheriff courts and seven justice of the peace courts would see local justice suffer and communities would lose the economic benefits of having a court in their town.
 
Bruce Beveridge, President of the Law Society, said: "Today's decision by the Justice Committee is a big disappointment. This will be a major loss, particularly for our rural communities.

"Local courts are an integral part of communities across Scotland. A local court offers the opportunity to see justice done and to bridge the gap between crime in local communities and its detection and resolution. In addition they make a significant contribution to the economic activity in their local communities and we're not convinced that this was considered before making today's decision.

"Of course we recognise the financial pressures facing the Scottish Court Service and understand that change is necessary. We all want a justice system that is fit for the 21st century but, while we are largely in favour of the proposals on wider court reform, we remain concerned that this closure programme will fail to provide proper access to justice or achieve significant financial savings in the long term.

"We had called for further cost analysis and also wanted to see further discussion across the public sector, including the Scottish Court Service, government and local authorities, to find out if savings could be generated in other ways, including potential for the wider use of some of our court premises.
 
"It's a significant disappointment that this won't happen or that all members of the Scottish Parliament will not have an opportunity to debate and vote on such an important issue."
 
ENDS                                                
 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Journalists can contact Val McEwan on 0131 266 8884 or Suzy Powell on 0131 476 8115.

For out of hours press inquiries, please call 0131 266 7411

11 June 2013

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