Motoring offences could be dealt with in new traffic courts, under proposals put forward by the Ministry of Justice.

The plans are an attempt to free up time in magistrates courts, which hear around half a million motoring related cases each year.

Ministers want to introduce the new traffic courts to reduce the time taken to process these cases, which can often take longer than that of a major criminal offence.

The 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.”

Nine Police forces have already started trialling the new traffic court system, including Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and West Yorkshire, as well as the London Metropolitan police.

Chief Constable Chris Eyre, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) lead on criminal justice, said: "This [the court] 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.”

Picture: Fotolia

Daljinder Nagra


May 17, 2013