Posted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:32 am Post subject: Sheriff court workloads
I remain surprised at the lack of concern being expressed at the planned closure of Sheriff Courts in Scotland
The comments come in a response to the Scottish Court Service's consultation on the restructuring, which will see 10 of the 49 Sheriff courts and seven Justice of the Peace courts close by January 2015 to save £1.3 million a year. Mainland jury trials are to be held at just 16 sheriff courts, with the rest dealing with summary cases and civil work.
Even more concerning for justice is that in the face of these changes there are plans to divert certain high court business to the lower courts.
It is within my knowledge that many Sheriff Courts are already struggling to cope with the present workloads. Allegations of statistical fiddling cannot easily be dismissed.
While my evidence is largely anecdotal it does relate to research I did over 20 years ago which showed even then that the time wasted by police and other witnesses at court was a disgrace and a serious waste of limited funds.
Some of the issues include:
• Waiting times are adhered to by calling cases and then adjourning them. Just like the hospital waiting lists.
• Prosecution and defence lawyers still appear unprepared for cases having left reading the case until the last minute.
• Day after day witnesses are turning up at court only to be sent home because some aspect of their case is not ready.
• Information previously in the hands of court officials which would allow witness countermanding is not being passed on until the witnesses are in court.
• Ineffective precognition of witnesses whereby they turn up at court unable or unwilling to give reliable evidence or maintain that information they passed onto the PF has not been assessed.
• Victims of domestic abuse are having to return to court and relive the trauma of facing their abusers yet again.
And where will I find the evidence for this? Not from court records because I bet they are collected in such a way as to hide the reality of chaos and inefficiency.
By MARK MCLAUGHLIN AND ANDY PHILIP
Published on 25/04/2013 01:48
SNP politicians have been urged to reject the justice secretary’s plan to close courts throughout Scotland by voting against him in the Scottish Parliament.
Kenny MacAskill has approved the Scottish Court Service’s (SCS) proposal to close 17 courts in a move intended to save £1 million a year. Speaking at Holyrood yesterday, Labour justice spokesman Lewis Macdonald read out a roll-call of SNP MSPs who have raised concerns about the closure of courts in their constituencies, and urged them to vote the closures down.
“Public opinion is so much against Mr MacAskill’s plans, and that of course includes many in his own party,” he said. “Christine Grahame has said she will continue to oppose the closure of Peebles Sheriff Court. She urged people to write to her as convener of the justice committee, saying: ‘I know that many members of the committee are unhappy about these proposals’.”
The justice committee is one of the few Holyrood committees where the SNP does not hold a majority following the resignation of John Finnie from the party.
Opposition members can lay a motion to annul the proposal to close the courts, which could then force the decision to full vote of the Scottish Parliament.
Mr MacAskill said: “I am aware that many members will want to make the case for courts in their own constituencies. I would expect no less … however, it’s worth noting the context in which options for future court structures are being looked at.”
He added: “We can all see that the towns that we live in, the places that work, the way we do business, the availability of transport have changed radically since Victorian times.
“The future I see in Scotland is one where justice is not only based in the physical building of a court, but where justice is delivered in a range of ways best suited to users of the system – whether victims, witnesses or those raising a civil action.” _________________ http://justiceforwulliebeck.webs.com/
Like the half baked investigation by Lord Carloway into the Cadder issue everything is done to preserve the Status Quo.
Lord Carloway did not investigate what Rape Crisis had said about Lawyers routinely advising clients to stay quiet after Cadder but yet repeated it as Gospel.
Now Rape Crisis have told me their information came from the police.
Why did the Police not just submit any evidence they had of this to Lord Carloway themselves or the justice Committee ?
Everything appears half baked in Scotland.
I sent e-mails to every member of the Justice Committee as well as the Justice Secretary raising concerns about Lord Carloway's lack of investigation into what Rape Crisis Scotland had said before repeating it as gospel only to get Lord Carloway chairing my recent appeal.
The Status Quo must be preserved and it appears Lord Carloway agrees with everything Kenny MacAskill says.
To an extent that after his favourable opinion he is made Lord Justice Clerk (Appointed by First Minister) so that MacAskill can and has referred to Lord Carloway as being the Second Highest Judge in Scotland.
Therefore he suggested he must listen to his opinion in his Cadder paper.
What chance is there for us if the two Scottish Judges on the Supreme Court do not understand Corroboration said Lord Carloway
Take away all rights and corroboration and destroy Scots Justice on a whim from Lord Carloway who is not supported by any other High Court Judge but that doesn't matter because Lord Carloway is the Second Highest and what he says goes.
You presented an excellent paper Ian, I wish you luck with it.
Like you, when I heard this news I was angered and disgusted that they were thinking of closing some of the Sheriff Courts.
Workload can only be increased to the already pressed system. It's an outrage so it will be interesting to see what the final outcome is. _________________ “Send not to know for whom the bell tolls – it tolls for thee.” John Donne.
There have been a number of developments in respect of Sheriff Court workloads and closures.
It is not the fact that change is envisaged that is the problem, because change is long overdue, but that the change will be partial only and will not address the real issues.
We have a court system on the edge of melt-down and it is entirely possible the way change is being implemented will finally push it over that edge.
The ideas of 16 court 'centres of excellence’ supported by the latest audio visual and other technology have a surface attraction but simply have not been thought through. They are being imposed on a chaotic system that will defeat any change that does not attack these basic problems.
The mystery to me is how any sense of ‘vision’ is obviously absent among these admittedly ‘intelligent’ people
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