Bicester Magistrates’ Court to close next year

Bicester Magistrates Court.'110210M-B421 ENGPNL00120111002102148
Bicester Magistrates Court.'110210M-B421 ENGPNL00120111002102148

Bicester Magistrates Court is to close with cases to be moved to Oxford or Banbury.

The Ministry of Justice and the HM Courts and Tribunal Service carried out a review of its court and tribunal services last year, with a view to closing 91 of its underused buildings.

As a result, the ministry has decided to close 86 court buildings, including the one in Bicester and the magistrates’ court in nearby Aylesbury.

In a report on the closure, the service said although cases would be heard at the combined court in Oxford, some respondents to the consultation said Oxford was difficult to get to by car or on public transport.

The service has agreed to include Banbury Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Family Court as an alternative venue for cases. An extra courtroom and hearing room will also be created at Oxford.

MP for Bicester, Victoria Prentis, said: “There are a very small number of cases being heard in Bicester Magistrates Court. Only 11 per cent of its capacity was used in the year 2014 to 2015.

“It is of course positive that there is less crime in Bicester, and also that debt recovery cases are being dealt with much more cheaply and quickly online.

“However, it is worrying for those whose jobs might be on the line, and I will continue to liaise closely with HMCTS to support staff in this process.”

Thames Valley police and crime commissioner, Anthony Stansfeld, said he was disappointed.

He said: “It has made this decision in spite of the response to its own consultation showing overwhelming opposition from local councils, MPs, magistrates, and many other interested parties across the Thames Valley, including myself. Furthermore, the decision flies in the face of the ministry’s own pledge to put the victim first.

“It will result in more failed cases as victims and witnesses will have to travel long distances to get to courts. It will waste a considerable amount of police time getting officers to courts. It takes local justice away from the areas in which crimes are committed.

“It would seem to waste money rather than save it, at the expense of local criminal justice.”

The court is due to close between January and March 2017.