Kirkcaldy sheriff court struggles to cope as trials double

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court'Pic Neil Hanna
Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court'Pic Neil Hanna

An MSP is calling for a new state-of-the-art justice centre in Kirkcaldy after it emerged the sheriff court is struggling to cope with a sharp increase in cases.

According to data obtained by MSP Claire Baker, the number of jury trials at Kirkcaldy has doubled in the past five years and the total number of trials has increased from 1196 to 2060 a year.

A consultation document from the Scottish Court Services in 2012, which led to the closure of local courts across Scotland, highlighted the need for change in Kirkcaldy.

The report noted “Kirkcaldy would be a more appropriate location for a sheriff and jury centre serving East Fife,” but said such a centre was not immediately feasible due to the “difficulty…that the accommodation available at Kirkcaldy is not of the standard we would wish.”

Claire Baker MSP, Scottish Labour’s justice spokesperson, said: “The case for a new, state of the art, justice centre in Kirkcaldy gets stronger with each and every passing year. As the Scottish Court Service accepted in 2012, Kirkcaldy is the best place for such a centre in the east Fife region.

“Currently Kirkcaldy and the surrounding area is being served by a court deemed not fit for purpose. As the stats revealed to me show, the problems facing the court have gotten worse since 2012, not better.

“Jury trials have doubled, the number of adjournments due to lack of court time have increased and this is all despite the number of days the court has sat also increasing. This shows just how much of a strain the current court is under in Kirkcaldy.

“The public want to see justice, delivered locally, with victims and their families fully supported and protected during the legal process.

“The case can no longer be denied by the Scottish Government. They must now bring forward plans for a new Justice Centre in Kirkcaldy.”

The data also revealed a 55 per cent increase in the number of trials adjourned, a quarter of which were adjourned due to a lack of court time in the past year, despite an increase in the number of days the court has sat. Last year the Scottish Government announced backing for a £23m justice centre in Inverness to replace the existing Inverness Sheriff Court.