End of Kirkcudbright Court draws near

Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court
Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court

The Scottish Court Service has recommended that Kirkcudbright Court be closed as part of cost-cutting measures within the criminal justice system.

The courts will be shut, subject to Parliamentary approval, following the recommendations set out by the Scottish Court Service (SCS).

Sheriff courts in Dornoch, Duns, Kirkcudbright, Peebles, Rothesay, Cupar, Dingwall, Arbroath, Haddington and Stonehaven will be closed, with business transferred to nearby locations. Many of these courts also have co-located Justice of the Peace courts.

Meanwhile, Justice of the Peace courts in Annan, Irvine, Motherwell, Cumbernauld, Portree, Stornoway and Wick will also shut.

The SCS report recommends that High Court cases are heard predominately in three dedicated centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. It also suggests a move towards “specialist jury centres” at certain sheriff courts over a longer 10-year period.

The closures come as the SCS faces further budgetary pressure.

Chief executive Eric McQueen said: “By 2015 the court service running cost budget will reduce by 20% in real terms and the capital budget will reduce from £20 million to £4 million.

“There needs to be changes in the way we operate and deliver our services.”

He added: “These recommendations may sound stark but they are proportionate. The volume of business transacted in the sheriff courts recommended for closure is around 5% of the overall court business.” Scottish Liberal Democrat South Scotland MSP Jim Hume said: “Reform is always needed to increase efficiency and ensure that Scotland’s criminal justice system is fit for the 21st century. However, I share the worries of residents and legal professionals that that closing Kirkcudbright and Annan courts could have a damaging effect on the length of time cases take to be heard

“This is not only bad for justice but little comfort to victims of crime and their families. The loss of the courts in Kirkcudbright and Annan will create inconvenience to litigants, witnesses and the police. But the public who are summoned for jury service will be the worst affected.”