In the Media

Community courts 'within two years'

PUBLISHED November 28, 2006

Innovative community justice centres, which aim to deal swiftly with crime and anti-social behaviour, could be rolled out across England and Wales within two years, the Lord Chancellor said on Monday.

Lord Falconer said he hoped the new style of local justice would become an essential part of the law and order system. He announced the creation of 10 new centres following the success of pilots in Liverpool and Salford.

Lord Falconer said: "Beyond these 10, I would like to see community courts in every part of England and Wales in the next two years.

"I believe that community justice as a concept and in practice is an essential part of the future of the criminal justice system in this country.

"Community justice is a vital way of doing justice differently, connecting courts and communities so that courts know what communities want and the communities get from the courts the justice they need."

Addressing a conference in central London, he added: "We want the community to view the courts as being relevant and effective to the problems of crime and anti-social behaviour they face."

He admitted that normal courts often appear "isolated and irrelevant" to the local population.

"Community justice and community courts are an attempt to right these wrongs, to help re-balance the criminal justice system and to help make sure the criminal justice system has as its priority the law-abiding citizen," he said.

"The perception of the courts will change from impenetrable institutions to an accessible part of the community."

The 10 new community justice centres announced today will be in Birmingham, Bradford, Devon and Cornwall, Hull, Leicestershire, Merthyr Tydfil, Middlesbrough, Nottingham and two areas in London.