Claims court waiting times are ‘excessive’

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CONCERNS have been raised about the amount of time cases are taking to come to magistrates’ courts in Northamptonshire.

In March this year the Ministry of Justice closed the Daventry and Towcester courtrooms to save cash, meaning all cases are now scheduled to be heard over in Northampton.

That has resulted in some defendants waiting almost six months for trials, which one former Daventry magistrate has labelled ‘excessive’.

Last week at Northampton Magistrates’ Court a motorist accused of dangerous driving and of using a mobile phone at the wheel was told he had to wait until May 8 next year to face trial because there was no court available for a morning trial anywhere else in the county before that date.

Instead the defendant is to stand trial in Corby, more than 25 miles from Northampton, and five-and-a-half months away from his last court appearance.

Former Daventry Magistrate Chris Over said: “I think generally waiting six months for a case to come to trial is very excessive.

“I’ve always said that justice should be done locally by local people and after the closure of Daventry Magistrates’ Court that can’t be done in the town.

“It’s very inconvenient for people to have to travel to Northampton and I’m not sure it’s the best way of doing things. It was a sad day when we lost our magistrates’ court in the town.”

The Daventry Express understands that on average there are now four magistrates’ courts running in Northampton on any one day. That compares to an average of eight when the Daventry and Towcester courthouses were open.

A spokesperson for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) said: “Listing of individual cases is a judicial function.

“However, HMCTS actively works with the judiciary and other criminal justice partners on listing issues and in particular on meeting the needs of victims and witnesses.

“Courts will always seek to list cases at neighbouring courts, where possible, in order to avoid delays.”

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