60 Yard Prison Van Trip Criticised

A decision to send a prison van 90 miles to transport a man from a police station to the magistrates' court next door has been slammed as a waste of money.

GEOAmey, a company which collects and delivers prisoners across England and Wales on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, took a defendant from Banbury police station to the Oxfordshire town's magistrates' court - a distance of around 60 yards - in a vehicle that had come from Southampton.

The 27-year-old appeared before magistrates after being held in custody overnight following his arrest for two alleged public order offences earlier this month.

The incident came to light after Oxford Crown Court Judge Tom Corrie questioned how much public money had been wasted by not walking the defendant the few steps between the two buildings.

But a spokesman for GEOAmey denied reports the journey was being pocketed by the taxpayer as he said the company was under a fixed-price contract.

He said:

''It's not the practice in this country to walk defendants down the street in handcuffs.

''If we had walked him down the street we would be criticised and now we are being criticised for what we are contractually obliged to do, which is to transport prisoners from one secure unit to another.''