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Detail of outcome
Since 2011 cases from Wisbech and 6 surrounding parishes in Cambridgeshire have been heard at Kings’ Lynn magistrates’ court in Norfolk. In the ensuing years this arrangement has led to a number of problems for agencies, and in some cases has significantly increased the travelling time for defendants, witnesses and others. The Cambridgeshire and Essex Judicial Business Group therefore consulted on a proposal to return cases from the Wisbech area to Cambridgeshire.
26 responses were received, 17 were in favour, 8 opposed and 1 was ambiguous. Having reviewed the responses the Judicial Business Group (JBG) is confirmed in its view that returning these cases to Cambridgeshire will improve access to justice for those defendants whose cases are presently heard in Norwich and Cambridge, eliminate the excessive expenses and inefficiency for agencies based in Cambridgeshire who have to travel to Norfolk to deal with small numbers of cases, and improve access to Cambridgeshire based services for defendants and victims. In addition, the proposal will eliminate a source of error in dealing with defendants for breach of community orders and suspended sentences. The Group accepts that the journey for some defendants will be longer, however it does not believe that it will be prohibitive, and witnesses will be able in many cases to give evidence by live link from a location closer to their home.
What happens next
The JBG has instructed prosecutors from the first Monday in April 2016 to commence cases from the Wisbech area in Peterborough magistrates’ court, save for domestic abuse prosecutions and youth cases which are to be heard at Huntingdon magistrates’ court.
HMCTS staff in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk will work with the Crown Prosecution Service, police, defence, police Witness Care and the Witness Service to develop protocols to enable witnesses from the Wisbech area to give evidence in Kings’ Lynn magistrates’ court if they wish.
This consultation seeks to improve access to justice for defendants whose cases are presently heard in Norwich and Cambridge.
It aims to:
- eliminate the expenses and inefficiency for agencies based in Cambridgeshire who have to travel to Norfolk to deal with a small numbers of cases
- improve access to Cambridgeshire based services for defendants and victims
- eliminate a source of error in dealing with defendants for breach of community orders and suspended sentences
This consultation seeks the wider views of those people or groups who may be affected by the change including magistrates, court users, stakeholders and public authorities, charities and business within the immediate areas concerned.