91 courts are set to close if the parliamentary under-secretary of state for courts and legal aid, Shailesh Vara has his way. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33549588
Many closures will directly effect applications for protective injunctions for victims of domestic violence and abuse, previous closures have left victims having to travel for hours to get to their nearest courts and this will only make matters worse. Mark Groves, Head of Operations at NCDV said that once a victim has decided to take action and escape an abusive relationship they do not need an arduous journey for a 10 minute hearing, far from supporting victims the government just seems to make matters more difficult.
Some courts are accepting electronic applications but there is no national policy to roll this out, Mark Groves said ” its all back to front, if the government were to allow electronic applications then there would be no need for courts and closures would be understandable, but just closing courts without alternatives is ridiculous.”
Shailesh Vara has commented that 50% of a third of the court systems capacity is unused and that costs £500 million a year. That statement needs to be challenged, firstly no system operates at 100% capacity and secondly previous cuts have left courts without sufficient staff to run effectively. Government cuts have reduced the effectiveness of the court system so their answer is to reduce the capacity rather than designing a more efficient system.
Mark Groves further commented “In cases of extreme hardship NCDV will pay for victims to get to court, the burden of the extra distances will not only prove to be another drain on our resources but also on the victims resources.”
NCDV will be extremely active to offer support in line with other agencies to make a stand against this decision.