Anger at court’s jury plans

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PLANS to cease jury trials at Stranraer and Dumfries Courts and relocate them to Ayr have been met with anger this week.

The plans, part of a document recently released called ‘Shaping Scotland’s Court Services’ would see jury trials taken from the region’s courts - along with the closure of Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court altogether.

But now the SNP government are being accused of trying to relocate resources to the central belt and take cash away from our region.

MP Russell Brown said of the plans: “When the SNP Government announced plans to close Kirkcudbright Sheriff court earlier this year, I warned we were on a slippery slope and it gives me no pleasure to be proven correct. My fear is that if this goes ahead, down the line the Government may move to close the courts at Dumfries and Stranraer entirely.

“These are highly alarming proposals and show one again the SNP are cutting local services in Dumfries and Galloway so they can move the resources to the central belt.”

The Scottish Courts Service is holding ‘dialogue sessions’ with invited audiences to discuss plans to centralise jury trials and take them away entirely from the region.

The MP added: “They are putting cost cutting ahead of local justice and it will be local people in our area who pay the price. These plans will shut local people out of access to the justice system and will make it harder for victims and witnesses to attend court.

“The consultation on these plans has so far taken place behind closed doors with invited audiences. I want to shine a light on these proposals and get a clear commitment from the Justice Secretary that jury trials will not be scrapped from Stranraer and Dumfries.”

Alex Fergusson MSP also voiced his concern at the plans, saying the removal of the jury services would further exacerbate Stranraer’s vulnerability.

Sheriff and jury business is currently conducted at 47 of the 49 sheriff courts. This proposal will see that centralised, with jury trials only being conducted in 14 of the 49 sheriff courts.

The 14 courts would be: Edinburgh, Livingston, Paisley, Dumbarton, Kilmarnock, Airdrie, Hamilton, Ayr, Dundee, Falkirk, Dunfermline, Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow.

Ayr Sheriff Court would carry out jury trials currently undertaken at Dumfries and Stranraer.