Dudley MP Ian Austin has launched a petition against plans to shut down Dudley's criminal court.
An official Ministry of Justice document (attached) sets out the Government’s “preferred option” which would mean:
• All criminal cases would be dropped from Dudley Magistrates Court, leaving the town without a criminal court for the first time in well over a century
• Criminal cases would instead be heard at courts in Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Walsall
• Dudley would be the largest town in the country with no criminal court.
The “preferred option” in the document “recommends that Dudley courthouse is transformed into a civil, family and tribunal (CFT) centre with no summary criminal workload”.
Austin said the plans will make it harder for victims of crime, volunteer magistrates, and journalists in Dudley to get involved in cases. He also warns that people working could be moved or made redundant as a result of the plans.
He is now calling on local people to sign a petition against the plans.
And he’s tabled a series of Parliamentary Questions demanding the Government drop the plans.
Ian Austin MP said:
"These plans are an outrage and should be dropped immediately. Dudley’s police station was closed at night despite opposition from thousands of local people, and now we’re set to lose our criminal court too.
“Dudley would end up the largest town in the UK without a criminal court when we should be moving more services into the town centre, not taking them away.
“Dudley’s had a criminal court for as long as I can remember, and it’s important justice is seen to be done locally, with local people seeing those who break the law in their community punished.
“If criminal hearings move elsewhere it will be harder for local victims to testify, harder for local people to volunteer in court and harder for the press to deter crime by reporting on local cases. It could also mean that people working in the court have to move or be made redundant.
“I’m collecting signatures from local people so we can send a clear message to the Government that their plans are dangerous and unwanted. Anyone who wants to sign the petition can do so by visiting my website, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling my office on 01384 342 504 and we’ll send out a form.”