Court cases could move to district under Government proposals

Huntingdon Law Courts

Huntingdon Law Courts - Credit: Archant

Criminal cases could be transferred to Huntingdon Law Courts if a proposal to close Cambridge Magistrates’ Court gets the go-ahead.

Consultations on the closure of the Cambridge court have just been launched by HM Courts and Tribunals Service South East as part of a £1 billion transformation of the justice system.

The courts service said Cambridge court was “significantly underused” and its work could be carried out elsewhere, including Huntingdon. Savings from getting rid of the building, which costs about £580,000 a year to run, would go back into the service.

The move could bring more local magistrates’ court cases back into the district since, in recent times, Huntingdon Law Courts have been used to hear domestic cases and occasional crown court hearings, with other offences being tried in Cambridge and Peterborough.

Custodial cases involving the Cambridge Magistrates’ Court workload would be transferred to Huntingdon and Peterborough, with some possibly being heard at Cambridge Crown Court, under the proposed shake-up.

A report says: “Regarding custodial cases, or magistrates’ cases which involve the need for custodial facilities, it is proposed that Cambridge Magistrates’ Court workload be relocated to Huntingdon Law Courts and Peterborough Magistrates’ Court, with some consideration to hearing some cases at Cambridge Crown Court.

“Huntingdon Law Courts would provide sufficient hearing room space to support the relocation of criminal magistrates’ work.”

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The report said: “Custodial cases would be transferred to Huntingdon, except where this would present a significant distance for users to travel at which point work would be listed at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court.

“A review would be undertaken to establish which location is more accessible to users from different areas. For users who do not live in the vicinity of Cambridge the reallocation of work to other parts of the county will represent decreased journey times in many cases.”

Non-custodial hearings could take place at Cambridge County Court.

In the past lower-level court cases would be heard in the community by local magistrates and Huntingdonshire once had courts in Huntingdon, St Neots, St Ives and Ramsey. Now there are only three magistrates’ courts in Cambridgeshire.

Responses to the consultation have to be in by March 29 to HMCTS Consultation, Post point 6.07, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ. You can also e-mail