Jump to content

Police buckle under pressure following MoJ's 'disastrous' move


Recommended Posts

System is starting to crack, warns solicitor.

Worcester Police Station

Worcester Police Station


West Mercia Police’s custody sector is showing signs of weakness in the wake of a controversial decision to close all but one remand courts in the region.

HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) held a consultation in 2017 regarding centralising criminal custodial remand cases in magistrates' courts in West Mercia in order to provide "swifter justice".

In April it was decided all overnight remand cases in Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire would be heard at Kidderminster, despite fierce opposition from police, magistrates and solicitors.

Stephen Scully, a solicitor from Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors in Telford, told Police Oracle the situation had been “a disaster”, with officers having to “babysit” people for up to 26 hours if they hand themselves in too late to be processed – whereas previously they could be dealt with in just two hours.

As a result, Mr Scully says custody suites are backed-up, with up to four defendants sharing a cell waiting for arranged transport, which is limited and can involve a 50-mile journey.

Officers are also spending less time on frontline duties as they find themselves placed on additional suicide watches.

A poster was put up at Worcester Police Station to advise wanted offenders of the best time to hand themselves in, in order to tackle the issue but has since been taken down. West Mercia Police says it "does not reflect operational guidance".


“It is frustrating. I have spoken to with chief inspectors and they are not happy with it at all. Previously an offender could be arrested for shoplifting, interviewed and then walk across to the court and be dealt with there and then. Now they are being kept in a police cell, which is a waste of police resources and taxpayer’s money. Police are practically babysitting people where they get three meals a day,” Mr Scully explained.

There has also been conflict between officers and prisoner transportation service GEOAmey, resulting in it refusing to bring documents to court. Subsequently, officers have had to drive papers to courts themselves, which can be up to a 90 minute drive one way, according to Mr Scully.

Reportedly, this has left officers on some occasions with no choice but to leave an area unpoliced.

A spokesman for GEOAmey says it is currently looking into the matter.

However, HMCTS says it is “unaware” of any issues around transport while there “is no evidence to suggest” there has been a significant increase in the numbers of defendants awaiting an available court, or that cases are not being heard within 24 hours.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: “I have clearly and consistently said that I was strongly against the centralisation of remand hearings in West Mercia and that is still the case. I believe our communities need local access to justice. This change removes that for many people.”

“It is too early to know the full impact, however as was predicted, so far the new arrangements are having a negative impact on police time and resources. I will continue to monitor this over an extended period of time as well as working with partners as appropriate”.

Both Mr Campion and Mr Scully suggested a more suitable alternative would be to invest in video enabled justice - however, the £1.2 billion modernisation of the justice system is behind schedule, facing funding gaps and at risk of failing to fulfil its aims in the proposed timeframe.

View On Police Oracle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...