Fears for court services as closures expected

Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith
Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith

TWO of the main court systems which serve people across Levenmouth and the Neuk are under threat.

It is being reported by the Scottish Court Service that 15 out of Scotland’s 49 Sheriff Courts may soon be closed and the number of Sheriff Courts hosting jury trials could be reduced from 47 to 14.

Under the plans Cupar Sheriff Court would shut, plus Kirkcaldy’s justice of the peace court.

Following a series of six ‘dialogue events’, Scotland’s most senior law figures are considering the findings at the moment before the Scottish Court Service Board puts forward proposals for public consultation in the autumn.

The closures are being considered following a 20 per cent cut to the Scottish Court Service budget by the Scottish Government.

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, has expressed concern for the future of rural justice.

She said: “In the current economic climate it is right that the Scottish Court Service is looking at ways to make savings and to deliver services in a more cost effective way.

“However, such a reduction in the number of courts should only be made if the overall capacity for processing criminal and civil cases is not adversely affected.

“Justice delayed is justice denied.

“The closure of rural courts will inevitably inconvenience members of the public and take away from the front-line policing duties of police officers.

“Once a formal consultation is published, it is important to ensure that any proposed changes do not adversely affect the justice system’s overall capacity for processing cases.”