Justice for Suffolk - call for Michael Gove to come and see how court closures would hit the county

Bury Magistrates' Court

Bury Magistrates' Court

Today we invite Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Justice, to come to Suffolk to get a closer understanding of just how much damage would be caused by proposed court closures.

Michael Gove

Michael Gove - Credit: PA

Mr Gove’s department wants to close the magistrates’ courts in Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft, which would leave Suffolk as one of just six English counties with a single court, which would be based at Ipswich.

A major campaign, entitled Justice for Suffolk, is fighting against the plans. Organised by us, it has the support of Tim Passmore, Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Judith Shallow, Suffolk’s High Sheriff, the Law Society, and other high-profile organisations and individuals. Gareth Wilson, Temporary Chief Constable, of Suffolk police, has voiced his concerns, and Suffolk County Council is also opposed to the move.

Terry Hunt, editor-in-chief, has written to Mr Gove, asking for him or any of his officials to visit the county as part of their “due diligence’’ before making any final decisions. Mr Hunt said: “It is vitally important that the Ministry of Justice really does understand just how large, and how rural Suffolk is, with many remote communities which are poorly served by the roads network and also by public transport.

“If these closures go ahead, many witnesses, victims, police, lawyers and defendants will face really long, tortuous journeys to get to and from the court in Ipswich, or Norwich. The fear is that the whole system of justice will start to crumble.

Justice for Suffolk letter

Justice for Suffolk letter - Credit: Archant

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“I will be very happy to show Mr Gove, or his nominated representative, just how much damage the closures would cause.’’

Meanwhile, Suffolk’s public sector leaders’ group is unanimous in its opposition to the closures. Mr Passmore said: “There was complete unanimity on resisting the MoJ’s proposals and asking them to undertake a complete reassessment.

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“We are prepared to work with the MoJ to help achieve savings and improve the service to the public.

“We are not wedded to the specific buildings currently used, but wish to use the facilities right across the public sector estate to help achieve these objectives.

“There are many opportunities for technology to be employed but these require proper evaluation and testing before changes are made and must be evidence based.

“The local dimension is critical for maintaining public trust and confidence and also ensuring there is a suitable deterrent available for would-be criminals.’’

See our Justice for Suffolk campaign page for more to to sign the petition

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