Council support for a Borders justice court

Sheriff Court, Duns
Sheriff Court, Duns

A Justice Centre in the central Borders is being considered when Duns and Peebles courts are closed in January 2015.

Scottish Borders Council are supportive of the idea, and the Scottish Courts Service has confirmed that they are about to start the initial feasibility work in the Borders and other areas during the course of this year.

Midlothian South Tweeddale & Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame (SNP) has put forward the idea of a justice court being in Galashiels (largely to counteract the loss of Peebles court). However, it would still mean a considerable journey for Berwickshire residents, who will have to travel either to Jedburgh Sheriff Court or Galashiels Justice Court.

Tracey Logan, SBC’s chief executive said: “Scottish Borders Council is aiming to protect local access to justice and we are actively working with the Scottish Court Service to achieve this. One option is a proposal to develop a state of the art Borders justice centre and we are setting up a joint project to consider feasibility and options.”

Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, told Parliament last week that the SCS proposals are designed to deliver a more sustainable courts estate with a smaller group of buildings in the short to medium term.

“Its longer term vision for the courts service in Scotland includes justice centres which it envisages will provide the full range of specialist support services, complementing the existing high quality courts in many of Scotland’s cities,” he added. The report identifies the Borders, Fife, Lanarkshire and Highland as areas where they could be located.

Jim Hume, Scottish Liberal Democrat Borders MSP, however, described the move as nothing more than a notion, taking the view that the Scottish Government has no detailed plans to deliver purpose-built justice centres in place of local Sheriff Courts: “The Justice Secretary has now made it clear that he has no detailed plans to create a purpose built justice centre for the Borders.”