Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, fears that the Government?s proposals for the criminal justice system would lead to greater centralised control of the court system and threaten local accountability. Mr. Lilley has urged the government to listen to the concerns of local magistrates that government plans to give powers to a new national executive agency would undermine the involvement of local people and lead to a serious increase in delays.
Peter Lilley said:
“Contrary to what this Government says about devolving power to a local level, its planned reforms of the criminal justice system would achieve the exact opposite. The administration of local justice, such as the siting of courthouses, should be in the hands of local magistrates and not a large, centrally run agency that is unresponsive to local needs.
“I share the concerns of Hertfordshire magistrates that if a national agency were to be created, there would be a consequent loss of local expertise and local decision making as well as increasing delays.
“Locally run magistrates courts have far shorter delays than the centrally run Crown Courts. If the magistrates courts were to be run centrally the odds are that delays would worsen not improve.
“I am taking up this matter with the Home Office and shall critically examine the Government?s detailed proposals for the courts system as soon as they become available.?