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Courts chaos: Shropshire youth held in custody for more than 24 hours

By Dominic Robertson | Telford | Crime | Published:

Controversial remand court arrangements have again come under fire after it emerged that a youth was held in custody for more than 24 hours before a hearing.

The youth was arrested in Shropshire at around 11am on June 6, but because the county's remand court hearings have been centralised in Kidderminster he was held in a police station until the following day when he was taken by bus to the hearing.

The hearing saw the 18-year-old released on bail and his case adjourned to take place at Telford Youth Court.

Under previous court arrangements, which changed earlier this year, the youth would have been taken to Telford Magistrates Court where the case would heard, rather than being held in custody.

Shropshire solicitors have said the case illustrates the problems with changes to the region's magistrates courts system, where all remand hearings have been centralised in Kidderminster.

Stephen Meredith of WMB Law said that a youth court had actually been taking place the same day the youth had been arrested.

He said the system was wasting money, as well as police and court time.

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He said: "It is just another example of a ridiculous situation. I am quite angry about it.

"People need to deal with youths with more respect. What they brought in was guidance to magistrates that custody should be a last resort for many youths and this 20 hours plus in custody for any youth is a really serious matter."

Mr Meredith said youths should appear before the courts as soon as possible.

He said: "Youths are supposed to be dealt with expeditiously, the more they are kept in custody the more it is counter productive. A lot of the youths, like the adults have mental health issues so it is important they are dealt with as quickly as possible."

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Mr Meredith said that there is space to accommodate the cases at Telford Magistrates Court so should they should take place at the court.

He said: "There is capacity at Telford to deal with all remand cases. You could do it by video link to Kidderminster from Telford. I do not know why common sense does not prevail."

A spokesman for HM Courts and Tribunal service said that discussions over how the changes had worked were being held yesterday.

He said: “Following a public consultation, remand cases were moved from Telford to Kidderminster Magistrates Court to improve listings and trial management at Telford.

“It’s always been our intention to review how these changes are working in practice and an event today will provide key agencies and professional court users with the opportunity to share their views. We continue to work with them and other partners to resolve any concerns raised.”

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