Lamont warns of dangers in losing Borders JP courts

THE number of days that Justice of the Peace courts will sit is due to be slashed under proposals to close courts in the Borders.

The Scottish Court Service’s recent consultation recommended closing courts in Duns and Peebles. However, figures show that 28 days will be lost from the shutting of Duns Court, 15 days lost from Peebles and 85 from Haddington.

John Lamont MSP said: “The true extent of the damage of these proposals is now becoming clear. Not only will we lose a court in Duns that deals with hundreds of cases a year, there will also be a severe cut to the number of days in which the Justice of the Peace courts sit.

He continued: “Justice of the Peace courts carry out vital work every year dealing with less serious criminal offences, allowing higher courts to deal with more serious crimes. It is an invaluable role carried out by individuals who are dedicated to helping out their local community - but we are set to see sittings slashed.

“I know many of our local Justices of the Peace are concerned with the proposals to shut Sheriff Courts in the Borders. They, like me, are worried that this could exert a huge amount of pressure on the remaining courts, while taking away local access to our justice system. Together with the closures in Peebles and Haddington we would see 128 fewer days in which these courts are sitting.”