Last Friday Lancaster Magistrates Court held an open day to allow members of the public to get an insight into the everyday workings of the court.
I was unable to be there but colleagues from my firm, Rachel Hood and John Lee, went along to provide information on the role of defence solicitors.
I am reliably informed that the day was a huge success.
The event had been organised by Jim Dickinson, a magistrate who was willing to take the time to arrange it and should be applauded for doing so.
Although I don’t always get on with the magistrates, especially when they decide against me, I cannot over emphasise the importance of what they do in administering local justice, and on a voluntary basis.
With particular emphasis on local justice, I was left contemplating where we would be if Lancaster court was to close.
The official line is that this will not happen, but I have real concerns for the future.
We no longer have remand courts on Saturdays or bank holidays, with those under arrest at such times being shipped to Preston and dealt with there, causing innumerable difficulties for all concerned. Furthermore, those ordered to pay fines will be aware they can no longer do so at Lancaster as there is no court office, and all administration staff are likely to be transferred elsewhere in the New Year.
We currently have a team of legal advisors (formerly clerks) but this also seems likely to cease.
Courts are closing all over the country – partially because of what I highlighted previously where there are claims of crime figures being manipulated?
And I would not be surprised if Lancaster is earmarked for such disposal.
If that happens, and the historic county town is eft without a court then don’t say that you weren’t warned.