Dumfries court may get funding to operate during pandemic

Dumfries Sheriff Court will be considered for additional funding to allow it to operate during the pandemic.

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 1:41 pm
Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Justice

Rather than invest in Dumfries and Galloway, court staff and a procurator fiscal were switched to Ayr to allow safe working.

Make the Dumfries court Covid-19 safe was previously ruled out, but it now appears there has been a u-turn.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf confirmed last week that the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service has now been given an additional £50m to try and increase court capacity.

The assurance was given following a question raised by Galloway anfd West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson at Holyrood over what support is being given to the legal system.

He asked why the Scottish Government had not provided more funding in order to clear the backlog of court cases and speed up the delay for victims of crime to gain justice.

Mr Carson said: “Given the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service has announced further restrictions in court activity until the end of March - which is yet another devastating blow to victims who will now have to wait even longer in their quest for justice.

“Why hasn’t the Scottish Government given courts, like Dumfries, appropriate resources to become Covid-safe to allow more court business and ensure more victims can gain justice quicker.”

In his response, Mr Yousaf said: “First and foremost we recognise the impact that any suspension of courts can have on victims.

“What I would like to say to Finlay Carson is the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service have confirmed that when it comes to their plans to potentially increase court capacity using the £50 million, of course, Dumfries will be part of that consideration.”

Mr Carson is now writing to Mr Yousaf to find out the timescale for work to be undertaken in Dumfries.

He added: “I would also like him to consider any future role Stranraer Sheriff court could play in also addressing the backlog, particularly when there is still the need for some victims to travel to Ayr which is a 100 miles round trip.”