Decision to Close Four Courthouses Premature, says Committee

Synopsis: The Assembly Committee for Justice has today called the Justice Minister’s decision to close four courthouses premature and has asked that consideration of their future be part of the wider departmental debate on its estate strategy.

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 22 November 2012

Reference: JUS 07/12/13

The Assembly Committee for Justice has today called the Justice Minister’s decision to close four courthouses premature and has asked that consideration of their future be part of the wider departmental debate on its estate strategy.

The call came as Justice Department officials briefed the Committee on the decision to close the courthouses in Bangor, Larne, Magherafelt and Limavady. These courthouses, or Hearing Centres, as they are known, are used mostly for Magistrates’ Courts dealing with criminal business which is prosecuted in the area where the offence was committed, rather than where the defendant lives.

The Committee was also briefed on the Department’s intention to undertake a wider review of the Justice estate which will look at the possibility to create a ‘Justice Centre’ where a number of agencies, including relevant voluntary sector organisations, could be based.

Speaking after the meeting, the Chairman of the Committee, Paul Givan MLA said: “While the Committee notes the reasons put forward by Department of Justice officials for the closing of the courthouses, the Committee believes that this decision is premature.

“We believe that the future of each courthouse should be considered as part of the wider justice estate review which will cover over 100 justice related premises.”

ENDS

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