Cops feel strain of court closure

THE decision to close Ely’s historic courthouse has put a strain on police resources in East Cambridgeshire, a leading police officer has said.

Inspector Robin Sissons said that since the Lynn Road court had closed his officers had been forced to spend more time in Cambridge obtaining warrants and transporting offenders who had failed to make the trip to the new court.

Speaking this week, Insp Sissons acknowledged that the difficult economic climate had driven the closure but said his officers had been left with more paperwork to do since the Ely bench was moved to Cambridge in April.

“I think we were all disappointed when the magistrates did close, the reason being firstly, because it has had an impact on my resources,” he told Star Radio.

“We used to go across the road to get warrants where obviously now we have to go to the courts at Cambridge and that system is a lot busier and we have to book in, so it’s harder for my officers there.

“The other thing I have found is that the local people who were going to the (Ely) court tend not to go to Cambridge which means that the magistrates have to put out a warrant for their arrest.

“This means it’s more work for our officers because we have to go and find them, get them and produce them before the courts, so it has had an impact on local police.”

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The inspector, who took over control of policing in East Cambridgeshire at the turn of the year, also said that the closure of the court had taken away the sense of local justice from people living in the area.

The decision to close the court was announced by Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCS) in December, following a nation-wide review designed to save the court service �15 million in running.

As well as Ely’s courthouse, a further 93 magistrates courts and 49 county courts across the UK were earmarked for closure.

At the time, Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said that financial constraints had forced HMCS to reduce the estate, a view with which Insp Sissons sympathised.

“It is a time of financial restraint and you’ve got to justify spending the money and this decision, I’m sure, was not made lightly.

“It means a little bit more work coming our way but it’s nothing we can’t cope with.”