Trip Too Far for Justice

There are warnings that justice could be compromised in North Devon because of cut-backs in court time.

More north Devon cases which need to be heard in front of a judge or jury are being held at Exeter Crown Court.

It means witnesses, defendents, their representatives as well as jury members,  have to travel the length of the county to get to court. Often cases take days or even weeks.

And the Law Society fears that those dependent on public transport will be deterred from taking part in future judical processes.

Barnstaple crown court's only sitting for a week in October and one further week in November until the end of the year,  and then not again until  March.

And North Devon magistrates will be sharing a bench with Central Devon magistrates from next year.

The Law Society's Ian Kelcey is concerned:  CLICK HERE

A spokesman for Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Services told Heart figures were not readily available to show just how less often Barnstaple Crown Court was sitting.

But they added: ' When listing cases at any court staff take into account workload changes, the seriousness of cases and the effective and efficient use of resources. Barnstaple cases are listed at Barnstaple Crown Court where possible unless, for example, the nature of the case requires the use of facilities only available at Exeter Crown Court. Sitting days are shared between courts within an area in order to provide the best service possible.

'The HMCTS Board and senior judiciary will monitor workload and performance levels throughout the financial year to ensure standards are being maintained.'