Consultation on Moving Wisbech Work to Cambridgeshire

Closed 8 Jan 2016

Opened 2 Dec 2015

Results Updated 1 Mar 2016

Since 2011 cases from Wisbech and 6 surrounding parishes in Cambridgeshire have been heard at Kings’ Lynn magistrates’ court in Norfolk. In the ensuing years this arrangement has led to a number of problems for agencies, and in some cases has significantly increased the travelling time for defendants, witnesses and others. The Cambridgeshire and Essex Judicial Business Group therefore consulted on a proposal to return cases from the Wisbech area to Cambridgeshire.

26 responses were received, 17 were in favour, 8 opposed and 1 was ambiguous. Having reviewed the responses the Judicial Business Group (JBG) is confirmed in its view that returning these cases to Cambridgeshire will improve access to justice for those defendants whose cases are presently heard in Norwich and Cambridge, eliminate the excessive expenses and inefficiency for agencies based in Cambridgeshire who have to travel to Norfolk to deal with small numbers of cases, and improve access to Cambridgeshire based services for defendants and victims. In addition, the proposal will eliminate a source of error in dealing with defendants for breach of community orders and suspended sentences. The Group accepts that the journey for some defendants will be longer, however it does not believe that it will be prohibitive, and witnesses will be able in many cases to give evidence by live link from a location closer to their home.

What happens next

The JBG has instructed prosecutors from the first Monday in April 2016 to commence cases from the Wisbech area in Peterborough magistrates’ court, save for domestic abuse prosecutions and youth cases which are to be heard at Huntingdon magistrates’ court.

HMCTS staff in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk will work with the Crown Prosecution Service, police, defence, police Witness Care and the Witness Service to develop protocols to enable witnesses from the Wisbech area to give evidence in Kings’ Lynn magistrates’ court if they wish.

 

Files:

Overview

In 2011, following a consultation, HM Courts’ Service merged the Local Justice Areas of Peterborough and Fenland and closed the courthouse in Wisbech. As a result of responses to the consultation, it was directed that criminal cases from Wisbech and six surrounding parishes should be heard at Kings’ Lynn magistrate’s court, which is 14 miles from Wisbech, rather than Peterborough magistrates court, which is 22 miles away. 
 
In the ensuing years this arrangement has led to a number of problems for agencies, and in some cases has significantly increased the travelling time for defendants, witnesses and others.  
 
 
 

Why We Are Consulting

This consultation sets out a proposal to return cases from the Wisbech area to Cambridgeshire, where they would be heard at Peterborough magistrates' and Crown courts and, for domestic violence and youth cases, Huntingdon magistrates' court. 
 
This proposal will improve access to justice for defendants whose cases are presently heard in Norwich and Cambridge, eliminate the excessive expenses and inefficiency for agencies based in Cambridgeshire who have to travel to Norfolk to deal with small numbers of cases, and improve access to Cambridgeshire based services for defendants and victims. In addition, the proposal will eliminate a source of error in dealing with defendants for breach of community orders and suspended sentences. 
This consultation seeks the wider views of those people or groups who may be affected by the change including magistrates, court users, stakeholders and public authorities, charities and business within the immediate areas concerned.

Audiences

  • Businesses
  • Citizens
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Local authorities
  • Youth workers
  • Litigants
  • Young people
  • Charities
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Bailiffs and Enforcement officers
  • Government departments
  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Young offender institute staff
  • Police
  • Prosecutors
  • Offenders
  • Victims
  • Youth Offending Team workers
  • Court & Tribunal staff
  • Legal professional bodies
  • Public sector
  • VCSE/Charity/Mutual
  • UK politicians
  • Journalists
  • Staff

Interests

  • Courts
  • Public Bodies
  • Youth Justice
  • Criminal justice
  • Law
  • Access to justice
  • Equality & diversity