Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Special traffic courts to be set up

About half a million motoring cases are heard in magistrates' courts every year and can often take longer to progress than major offences

Traffic-light jumpers and speeding motorists are to be dealt with in special traffic courts in a bid to free up time for more serious cases, the Government said.

About half a million motoring cases are heard in magistrates' courts every year and can often take longer to progress than major offences, the Ministry of Justice said.

Ministers want to set up traffic courts to reduce delays as part of a wider plan to improve Britain's criminal justice system.

Justice Minister Damian Green said: "Enforcing traffic laws is hugely important for road safety and saving lives. However, these cases take nearly six months on average from offence to completion, despite the fact that over 90% of cases result in a guilty plea or are proved in absence - this is simply unacceptable.

"The justice system must respond more quickly and effectively to the needs of victims, witnesses and local communities, and these dedicated courts will enable magistrates to better organise their work and drive greater efficiency."

The Government is discussing with the judiciary, who are responsible for managing cases in the courts, how the traffic courts can be delivered across the country

Chief Constable Chris Eyre, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) lead on criminal justice, said: "We have implemented this new procedure to traffic cases with great success in nine police forces - radically simplifying and speeding up the process.

"This is only implemented when there is a guilty plea or where the case against a defendant is not contested.

"Effective first hearings have significantly reduced the amount of adjournments and a single court can deal with up to 160 cases a day."

The nine areas which have trialled the new traffic courts are Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Lincolnshire, Metropolitan Police, Nottinghamshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and West Yorkshire.

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