Community Courts (Nottingham)

Oral Answers to Questions — Constitutional Affairs – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 6th March 2007.

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Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Labour, Nottingham North 2:30 pm, 6th March 2007

What progress has been achieved in locating community courts in Nottingham; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Minister of State (Department of Constitutional Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Community court sittings dealing with cases from the Aspley and St. Ann's areas of Nottingham will commence within a community building when the right building is found.

Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Labour, Nottingham North

I welcome again the Government's community court initiative on reuniting communities and the justice system that is meant to serve them. Will my right hon. and learned Friend meet senior judiciary to clarify a couple of matters: first, communities' involvement in the possible appointment of judges in community courts; and secondly, relaxation of the very stringent accommodation criteria that are necessary for magistrates courts so that they can be located in the neighbourhoods that they are intended to serve?

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Minister of State (Department of Constitutional Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I thank my hon. Friend for his continuing commitment to ensuring that there is effective community justice in his area of Nottingham. It is absolutely right that everybody involved in the justice system has to do things slightly differently if that connection between the community and their local court is to be re-established. That means looking again at the criteria for the kinds of buildings that could be used as courts, and it raises the question of how the local judiciary could be chosen. One of the strongest points in favour of the Liverpool community justice centre was that community representatives from local tenants associations had the opportunity to be part of choosing the judge, David Fletcher, whom they now regard as their judge for their local community.