New traffic courts to be opened

New courts in England and Wales will hear minor traffic offences.

This follows a successful pilot scheme in nine areas.

The dedicated traffic courts are designed to cut delays in the criminal justice system and free up magistrates to deal with more serious cases.

Around half a million minor motoring offences go through the courts every year, but the idea is that cases such as speeding and traffic light offences could be put through these new courts.

The traffic courts have been piloted in Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Lincolnshire, Metropolitan Police, Nottinghamshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and West Yorkshire.

The plan is to open a traffic court in every police area by April 2014. Specialist prosecutors could deal with up to a 160 cases a day.

The new courts will only have jurisdiction in the 90% of cases where motorists admit their guilt; if they contest the offence, magistrate courts will deal with it, as at present.

Justice Minister Damian Green said: “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.”

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