Rural communities are at risk of being cut off from the criminal justice system if a government review sparks the closures of courts and tribunal buildings, the National Rural Crime Network has warned.
As well as access concerns, confidence in the justice system among rural communities will be damaged if hearings and cases are held elsewhere, according to the group of nearly 30 Police and Crime Commissioners and other rural bodies in England and Wales.
A consultation on the proposed future strategy of HM Courts & Tribunals Service suggests courts and tribunal buildings could be relocated and members of the crime network fear too much emphasis is being placed on how public transport and technology could limit the impact of any changes.
Network chairwoman and North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan, met Justice Minister Lucy Frazer at Westminster this week to urge her to consider the concerns.
Ms Mulligan said: “The National Rural Crime Network urges HM Courts & Tribunal Service to recognise the unique challenges faced by rural communities as they assess the results of this consultation and ensure any changes help and not hinder access to justice for those who all too often already feel their voice is not heard nor listened to.”