Scottish Labour MSP Claire Baker has reiterated her calls for jury trails to remain at Kirkcaldy Sherriff court after the Scottish Court Service consultation proposed ending jury trials in the town. The proposed change would mean that only Dunfermline would be able to hold jury trials in Fife.
The move could take place despite Kirkcaldy being the busier of the two courts and the consultation recognising the “strength of comments made to us that Kirkcaldy would be more appropriate location for a Sherriff and jury centre serving East Fife.”
Statistics released to Claire Baker by the Scottish Court Service revealed that in the past year almost three times as many jury trials took place in Kirkcaldy compared to Dunfermline. Kirkcaldy sat for almost double the amount of days as Dunfermline and had almost double the Indictments.
Other potential changes from the consultation that would affect the Kingdom include the amalgamation of Kirkcaldy justice of the peace court into Kirkcaldy Sherriff Court and the closure of Cupar Sherriff Court.
The Scottish Court Service consultation comes on the back of the Scottish Governments draft budget that will see the Scottish Court Service budget cut by £10.9 million over the next two years.
Claire Baker has previously spoken in the Scottish Parliament about her concerns that local and rural courts could be closed due to Scottish Government cuts.
Speaking from her office in Kirkcaldy, Claire Baker said:
“The people of Kirkcaldy deserve justice to be delivered locally and in a meaningful way but I have grave concerns that by moving jury trails out of Kirkcaldy and into Dunfermline we will see a number of difficulties including an increase in delays for trials.
“Scottish Court Service statistics shows that Kirkcaldy has three times the number of jury trials than Dunfermline. Moving trials from Kirkcaldy will only add pressure on to the staff at Dunfermline who will be inundated with cases and could potentially lead to longer waiting times for cases coming to court.
“Any delays will just add to what is already a stressful ordeal for victims. What we should be seeing is a system that makes it easier for victims to have justice delivered, not a system that sees them waiting for their turn.
“Going to court can be an extremely emotional time and lives can essentially be on hold until they see an end to the case. The Scottish Government should be making the process easier, not harder, for all involved but by stopping jury trials in Kirkcaldy they will be penalising the victims and the innocent.
“Any potential move is not being made for the benefit of the people of Fife but due to SNP budget cuts. This round of budget cuts by the Scottish Government may prove to be the final nail in the coffin for local courts across Scotland and Fife.”