Jury trials return to Dumfries next week, but still no sign of Stranraer court reopening

Jury trials are expected to restart in Dumfries next week, but Stranraer will have to wait.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 3:33 pm
Dumfries Sheriff Court will be sitting on Monday

Work is underway to link Dumfries Sheriff Court to the remote jury centre based in Ayr.

But there are no plans as yet to expand the technical infrastructure to Stranraer Sheriff Court for sheriff and jury cases.

Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson previously asked the Scottish justice secretary Humza Yousaf that additional funding be made available to allow the courts to operate during pandemic.

He later requested a timescale for work to be undertaken in Dumfries, pressing also the case for Stranraer.

Mr Carson has now welcomed an update from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service confirming that the first sitting in Dumfries via the remote link is now planned for Monday.

He said: “I am delighted that the justice secretary listened to my argument to give courts, like Dumfries, appropriate resources to allow them to operate again.

“It is vital that we do everything possible to clear the huge backlog of court cases and ensure victims can gain justice quicker.

“I am still disappointed that Stranraer Sheriff Court has not been considered likewise and I will continue to press for this to happen as quickly as possible to avoid unnecessary travel to Ayr.”

Eric McQueen, chief executive of SCTS, said: “I am pleased to confirm we are now in a position to link Dumfries Sheriff Court to the remote jury centre based in Ayr.”

But the court boss revealed there are no current plans to expand the infrastructure to Stranraer.

Mr McQueen said: “Under the leadership of the Lord Justice Clerk, we have worked with the judiciary, legal profession and third sector to introduce innovative remote jury centres within cinemas.

“This is an incredibly complex technical solution both to install and to service and operate on an ongoing basis and not one that can be replicated in every court in Scotland.

“That being said, where the defence and Crown agree, and the sheriff has determined it is appropriate, there are facilities for witnesses to give evidence remotely from Stranraer Sheriff Court to avoid the need to travel to Dumfries.”