Justice for our courts

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I REFER to a comments recently made in the local media in relation to the administration of local justice and having no sympathy for defendants who may have to travel that little bit further to Huddersfield.

If it were so simple I would not be writing this now, let us not forget the ‘innocent’ victims of crime who may also be required to attend court.

This includes whole families with young children attending a family court that may well affect the rest of their lives. It includes victims of crime who by definition may well be vulnerable.

It includes independent witnesses who are prepared to see the proper administration of justice, it includes advocates and supporters who are there to help vulnerable people at these difficult times.

An analysis of a typical month of the Court listings for the Dewsbury and Batley Bench reveals that there were 1,198 persons listed for four courts.

This included 382 prosecutions whose defendants were from out of the North Kirklees area leaving a balance of 816 local inhabitants. Of this 816, there were 155 defendants (19 per cent) who live in an area that will take over the hour to travel to Huddersfield.

Given the nature of the alleged offences, many involve domestic violence and or common assault, where a vulnerable victim may well be exposed to risk by having to meet the defendant again on public transport.

Assuming a very conservative estimate, that less than 10 per cent of the cases have ‘no contact’ bail conditions, these proposals will expose at least 15 defendants from the outlying areas of North Kirklees per month to failure to conform to bail conditions, it being virtually impossible to avoid contact on public transport.

This equally applies to the majority of witnesses, victims and defendants who may well live within the one hour travel criteria. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

BRIAN HUGHES

Leeds Old Road

HECKMONDWIKE