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Concern as Skipton Magistrates' Court work is moved
10:00am Thursday 6th February 2014 in News
The vast majority of low-level motoring offences committed in Craven are no longer being dealt with at Skipton Magistrates’ Court.
The loss of work – despite it representing an average of six cases a week – has been met with concern by both the town’s MP, Julian Smith, and Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan.
Mr Smith, who in 2010 led a campaign to keep the Skipton courts open, said: “The campaign I led to ensure Skipton’s Courts remained open was all about ensuring cases were heard locally so that justice was not just done but seen to be done.
“This latest decision to move more cases from being heard in Skipton is therefore very disappointing, particularly when the town’s traffic police unit has recently been secured.”
And Mrs Mulligan, who also fought to keep the courts in Skipton, said she would be monitoring the situation.
“I share the public’s concern about services being moved from Skipton to Northallerton,” she said. “I will be keeping a close eye on the implications of these changes on the ground and their impact on access to justice here in Craven.”
Mrs Mulligan added she was also worried that the changes could affect the future viability of the courts in Skipton.
“I will be seeking assurances that North Yorkshire is not the subject of Ministry of Justice salami slicing, and that Craven in particular is not being overlooked as a base for local justice services,” she said.
From the beginning of the year, non-contested speeding cases and other “low-level” motoring offences have been switched to Northallerton Magistrates’ Court.
The offences include out of date driving licences and MOTs and vehicles in dangerous or defective conditions, as well as ignoring of traffic signs and motorcycle offences.
The court is one of several dedicated traffic courts to be set up across the country and part of the government’s vision to create traffic courts in all 42 police force areas.
An HM Courts and Tribunals spokesman said: “Non-contested traffic cases for North Yorkshire are now heard at Northallerton Magistrates’ Court.
“This follows a Government announcement that every area should have a dedicated ‘traffic court’ to deal with low-level road traffic offences, where defendants are not required to appear in person, enabling magistrates to better organise their work and drive efficiency.”
The spokesman added that it was possible for contested cases, where the defendant is required to attend, could still be heard at Skipton.
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