Witness evidence by video

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A video links between Duns and the remaining sheriff courts in the Borders is to be set up and made ready to go live by January 2015.

Duns and Peebles Sheriff Courts are due to close as part of Scottish Court Service’s streamlining programme and court business transferred to Jedburgh and Selkirk Sheriff and Justice of the Peace Courts.

Scottish Court Service then decided to look at how justice services in the Borders should be delivered and a feasibiity study was carried out by the SCS, Scottish Borders Council, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Police Scotland and Lothian and Borders Criminal Justice Authority.

After taking into consideration population distribution, geography and public transport in the region they concluded that developing Jedburgh and Selkirk courts was preferable to a central justice centre.

Whichever model was chosen it was always envisaged that techonology would play a part to “improve customer experience, minimise inconvenience and deliver access to justice”.

As well as the video links making it easier for witnesses to give evidence and the use of technology the council’s network of contact centres will also play a role in bringing justice services to communities.

The joint study concluded: “We see real potential for two ways in which the existing SBC contact centres could develop.

“One is the provision of gateway advice and information centres - a location for people to have a single point of contact for services such as SCS, the Procurator Fiscal, Victim Support, Women’s Aid and Citizens Advice Bureau.

“The second is to provide a technology base where court administrative services such as payment of fines can be transacted.”

While welcoming the addition of a video link service at Duns, East Berwickshire councillor Michael Cook said: “This is an improvement but let’s not hold it as something remarkable because its still a backwards step from where we were.”

A request by East Berwickshire councillor Jim Fullarton that consideration be given to a video link facility at Eyemouth will also be looked into.