Aylesbury at forefront of courts overhaul which will see speedier justice served to defendants

View, Magistrates Court sign, in Aylesbury
View, Magistrates Court sign, in Aylesbury

Aylesbury Magistrates Court has become one of the first centres in the country to implement government plans to speed up the justice system.

Committal hearings, used to officially transfer cases from magistrates to crown court, have been abolished.

Cases will now be sent to the crown court as soon as it is clear the matter is serious enough, without the need for a separate committal hearing.

The government claims scrapping the hearings will enable the courts to run more efficiently and ensure justice is served more swiftly.

Aylesbury is among 29 areas where the hearings have been abolished from this week, following their removal in four areas in June. The hearings will be phased out across the rest of England and Wales over the next year. Nationally, the changes will mean that around 60,000 fewer hearings will be needed each year.

Criminal justice minister Damian Green said: “Abolishing committal hearings is another one of the steps we are taking to make justice swift and sure, and to ensure our courts run efficiently and effectively for victims, witnesses and the taxpayers whose money funds them.

“The justice system needs continued improvement and this announcement is an important step forward.”

The changes are the latest stage of a series of moves to make the justice system swifter. These have also included introducing flexible court operating hours during evenings and weekends in almost 50 areas and increasing the use of video links between courts, prisons and police stations.