Traffic courts to avoid justice system getting clogged by minor offences

CourtroomDedicated traffic courts to prosecute minor motoring offences are to be set up in England and Wales in an attempt to create a more efficient criminal justice system.

Following a pilot scheme in nine areas, the Government has unveiled plans to deliver a traffic court in every police region by April 2014 in a bid to reduce the load on magistrates’ courts and allow them to deal with more serious crimes.

Around half a million motoring offences go through the courts each year. These minor cases can often take a long time from offence to prosecution and clog up the courts from dealing with more serious cases.

Under the Government’s new plans, the traffic courts could deal with up to 160 cases a day, including speeding, insurance, traffic light and parking offences, through the use of sessions with specialist prosecutors to reduce the time taken to deal with each case.

Pilots in Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and West Yorkshire, together with the Met Police region, were found to simplify and speed up the prosecution process.

The traffic courts are implemented in the 90 per cent of cases where motorists admit their guilt or do not contest. If the case is contested it will go to a magistrate’s court.

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 per cent 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.”

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