The chairman of Corby magistrates bench says trials could collapse and defendants could walk free following the announcement that three courts in Northamptonshire are to close.
Yesterday (Thursday) the Ministry of Justice confirmed the closure of Corby Magistrates’ Court, Kettering Magistrates’ Court and Kettering County Court after more than six months of consultation.
Terry Knights, who has been campaigning to save Corby Magistrates Court since it was earmarked for closure last year, has blasted the decision.
He said: “In one stroke the Government have created a two-tier justice system in England and Wales by announcing the closure of 86 magistrates courts.
“There will be one system for major cities, towns and conurbations who have good public transport facilities at a reasonable cost and one system for rural areas who have poor, if any, public transport systems at a relatively high cost.
“It’s quite easy to get to court in a city.
“It’s not so easy to get to court from rural areas if you haven’t got a car, public transport, or the money to pay the high fares.
“Many of our court users have to rely on benefits and the fares are a high proportion of these precious benefits.
“If key witnesses can’t or won’t get to court for 9.30am, trials will collapse and defendants will walk free because the prosecutors cannot prove their cases.”
The closure of the magistrates’ courts will begin between now and June, with Kettering County Court to close between July and December.