“A BAD DAY FOR LOCAL JUSTICE” AS COURT FACES CLOSURE

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ON what one Local Councillor described as a “bad day for local justice” it was announced this week that Stonehaven Sheriff Court faces closure in May 2014.

The closure still needs to be approved by parliament but the Scottish Courts Service say all business from Stonehaven Sheriff Court will be able to be transferred to Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

The report, titled Shaping Scotland’s Courts Services, states that Aberdeen can deal with the added caseload however it will take the Court “close to overall capacity”.

The announcement comes following a public consultation carried out by the SCS after it was announced in September that Stonehaven Sheriff Court, along with 10 other Sheriff Courts, faced closure.

During the consultation into the closure of the courts the SCS received 320 responses about the issue, 95% of these responses did not support the plans to close the courts. With only six responses were in favour of the plans.

Despite this the SCS has recommended that ten of the Sheriff Courts be closed.

CONCERNS

In response to the consultation into the closure of Stonehaven Sheriff Court, a number of concerns were raised including Aberdeen Sheriff Court’s ability to deal with a larger caseload.

In response to this issue the report states: “Aberdeen Sheriff Court currently has 9 courtrooms available to accommodate court business providing total capacity for 2,250 court sitting days per annum.

“In 2011/12 sheriff court sitting days for Aberdeen and Stonehaven were 1,693 and 199 respectively – a total of 1,892. The corresponding figures for the Justice of the Peace Courts at Aberdeen and Stonehaven were 253 and 40 respectively. The total court sitting days used (2,185) is close to overall capacity, however, the level of business at Stonehaven is such that it can be accommodated with only a marginal revision of the Aberdeen Court programme.

“As such there is no difficulty in accommodating all the business within the Sheriff Courthouse at Aberdeen.”

If the recommendations are given parliamentary approval Stonehaven Sheriff Court will close in May 2014 and all business will move to Aberdeen Sheriff court.

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