Motorists who are caught speeding, have twelve points on their licence, are caught driving without car insurance or jump red lights will now be sent to a new traffic court that the government are creating so that the cases can be dealt with quicker and the magistrates courts can be freed up to deal with other cases. According to the Ministry of Justice almost half a million people have to go to a magistrates court each year for driving offences, which means that cases can often take months to complete.
Discussing the new plan, 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% 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.”
Meanwhile, Chief Constable Chris Eyre from the Association of Chief Police Officers said: “We have implemented this new procedure to traffic cases with great success in nine police forces – radically simplifying and speeding up the process. This is only implemented when there is a guilty plea or where the case against a defendant is not contested. Effective first hearings have significantly reduced the amount of adjournments and a single court can deal with up to 160 cases a day.”
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan has also supported the move, and added: “We welcome efforts to make our courts more efficient and specialised. It’s important that we have swift justice, and I look forward to seeing results of how this works in practice. But this is the low-hanging fruit of problems in our criminal justice system.”
“We have called for a root-and-branch review of our whole criminal justice system, and this should be the Government’s priority as there are bigger savings to be found in the way our courts and prosecution services work. Real savings and efficiencies would avoid the need for the Government’s increased use of cautions for serious offences and mean that their proposed cuts to criminal legal aid, that risk doing so much damage to the justice system, could be abandoned.”