Non-appearances at courts rise in areas of magistrates’ closures, report finds

PUBLISHED: 10:11 17 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:11 17 July 2018

The former magistrates' court building in Bury St Edmunds is up for sale. Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELL

The former magistrates' court building in Bury St Edmunds is up for sale. Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELL


Non-appearances have risen sharply in certain areas since a number of magistrates’ buildings in Suffolk were closed, a report has found.

The former Lowestoft Magistrates' Court. 

Picture: James BassThe former Lowestoft Magistrates' Court. Picture: James Bass

Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds magistrates’ courts were closed in 2016, with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) saying modern technology meant there was less of a need for physical court buildings.

It also said the closure would help the government to save money.

But the move left Suffolk with just one magistrates’ court in Ipswich, meaning people have other parts of the county have had to travel many miles to attend hearings as witnesses or defendants.

The report by the Suffolk Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Suffolk, funded by the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders’ group, said: “Some believe that the HMCTS may have underestimated the difficulties that the court closures are having on court users, particularly those that live further away from Ipswich.”

Its research has found that for defendants based in Bury St Edmunds, there were warrants issued for the arrest of just 2.7% of defendants - but post closure in the same area, it is 12.8%.

It said there were “far greater generalised time costs for court users residing further away from Ipswich” and that: “The key message here is that this alternative provision plan needs to take into consideration the diverse needs of court users in Suffolk, as there are no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions.”

It added that the closures “have led to a loss of informal ‘human’ relationships between the court and the defence advocates working on behalf of their clients” and that: “The court closures are weakening access to “local justice knowledge” due to the Magistrates not being able to sit in their local courts.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Sudbury Mercury visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Sudbury Mercury staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Sudbury Mercury account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other popular content

55 minutes ago

A Christmas fair with real reindeer has raised over £1,000 for care home residents.

A Suffolk duo who keep the lights on in their communities through all weathers, has won a special award that recognises.

59 minutes ago

If you are a parent of a three or four year old you will have received a letter from Suffolk County Council about school places this week. But what do you do next?

15 minutes ago

A salon belonging to a young business owner near Saxmundham has been broken into with thousands of pounds worth of stock being stolen.

Show Job Lists

Local weather



max temp: 11°C

min temp: 7°C

Newsletter Sign Up

Sudbury Mercury weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24