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Ford announces decision on future of Court Hearing Centres

Justice Minister David Ford has today announced his decision on the future of five court Hearing Centres.
Thursday, 22 November 2012

The closure of four of the Hearing Centres and the transfer of that business to larger court centres will deliver some modest savings but will, in general, afford court users, including victims and witnesses, a higher standard of accommodation and facilities

Minister of Justice David Ford MLA,Northern Ireland Department of Justice

Following a consultation exercise the Minister has decided to close the Hearing Centres at Bangor, Larne, Limavady and Magherafelt and retain the Hearing Centre in Strabane.

David Ford said: “I have listened carefully to the points made by consultees and I recognise the convenience of having local court facilities. However, it remains the case that, in general, the Hearing Centres are among the smallest and least well equipped venues within the court estate.

“After much consideration I have concluded that Hearing Centres at Bangor, Larne, Limavady and Magherafelt should close. Larne Borough Council has offered its facilities for hearings. My officials are going to explore the viability of this proposal.

“I am satisfied that the level of accommodation and facilities available at Strabane are of a higher standard than the other Hearing Centres and that it should be retained. Strabane’s longer term future will be considered as part of a Departmental Estate Strategy.

“The closure of four of the Hearing Centres and the transfer of that business to larger court centres will deliver some modest savings but will, in general, afford court users, including victims and witnesses, a higher standard of accommodation and facilities.

“These closures mark a first step towards achieving better utilisation across a more consolidated and better equipped court estate.

“I have also commissioned an Estates Strategy for my Department as a whole, which will provide a blue print for the future of not only court provision in Northern Ireland but all of my Department’s requirements.”

Note to Editors

Bangor and Larne will close by April 2013, while the closure of Limavady and Magherafelt will close following the reform of court boundaries to establish a single territorial jurisdiction which will be implemented in 2014

All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.