MP demands urgent meeting to resolve Shropshire legal system crisis
An MP today demanded an urgent meeting with the Justice Minister to demand action to solve a crisis with Shropshire's legal system.
It comes as solicitors, police and a magistrate criticised new arrangements they say are bringing chaos to court cases.
Remand prisoners in Shropshire, who used to have their cases heard at Telford Magistrates Court, are now being transferred out of the county by minibus to Kidderminster.
It was revealed last week that a man arrested in Whitchurch was effectively dumped on the street 53 miles away in Kidderminster after being released with no case to answer by magistrates.
Philip Dunne, MP for Ludlow, said that he had long held concerns regarding the controversial changes made to the courts system.
Along with other Shropshire MPs, Mr Dunne met with Minister for Justice Lucy Frazer and representatives of the Ministry of Justice.
Now he has demanded a formal summit with the minister, adding that solicitors had told him of serious issues.
He said: "We knew that there were going to be particular challenges for the West Mercia area. It is a very long way for people and their relatives to travel for these hearings.
"I have written to Lucy Frazer and met with her last week and warned her that this is not working well. It needs to be reviewed.
"I have now asked for a formal meeting with officials and am awaiting their response. I am asking them to rethink. The consequences of these changes are quite far reaching and although the Ministry of Justice may say it is making the system more efficient it is causing distress for everybody else."
Telford MP Lucy Allan, MP for Telford, added: “We expressed our concerns to the Minister about the future of our county's only magistrates court: Telford Magistrates Court.
“I understand that the changes have resulted in some difficulties for the police and defendants. I will continue to raise this issue with the minister.”
Defence solicitors, the region’s police and crime commissioner, and a long-standing Shropshire magistrate have spoken of issues.
But the Ministry of Justice has defended the decision, which it says was made to save money for the taxpayer and improve management at Telford Magistrates Court.
A spokesman for the MoJ said: “We are investing more than £1 billion to reform and modernise the justice system – to deliver swifter justice and provide better value for the taxpayer.
"Following a public consultation, remand cases were moved from Telford to Kidderminster Magistrates Court to improve listings and trial management at Telford.”