Duns Sheriff Court earmarked for closure

DUNS Sheriff Court is among a list of courts earmarked for closure by the Scottish Court Service.

By Simon Duke
Monday, 24th September 2012, 8:57 am

The plans were revealed in a the court service’s consultation document ‘Shaping Scotland’s Court Services’, which proposes to transfer business from Duns to Jedburgh.

And Duns Sheriff Court isn’t the only one in the Borders to be targeted. Peebles is also on the closure list with court business there to be transferred to Edinburgh.

In the consultation, the court service say that any court which sits an average of two days a week or less and hears less than 200 new criminal cases and 300 new civil cases a year ‘becomes disproportionate and inefficient to maintain’.

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And Duns falls into this category with only 132 new criminal and 204 new civil cases heard in 2011/12. Peebles had even less with 117 and 173 respectively.

Eric McQueen, SCS executive director, said a court structure was needed that was accessible for people and with the facilities and services that the public would expect.

He commented: “With greater levels of specialisation expected to result from the justice reforms, we anticipate the most serious types of business being heard in fewer locations.

“Many of our court buildings were built in Victorian times and are both expensive to maintain and difficult to adapt to modern needs.

“Fewer court buildings would allow SCS to target future investment to ensure that the best possible facilities and level of service is available for all court users but more particularly for victims, witnesses, and vulnerable people.”

One person who doesn’t want to see either Duns or Peebles close is MSP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, John Lamont who has urged the court service to reconsider.

He told ‘The Berwickshire News’: “These proposals would represent a huge blow to the court system we have here in the Borders. The presence of local courts in rural areas such as ours can actually save both time and money, and it is therefore puzzling that the Scottish Court Service believes closing these courts is the right thing to do.”