SHUTTING the police cells holding Uttoxeter criminals will have a ‘massive impact’ on the East Staffordshire legal system, a solicitor has claimed.
Simon Dean, of Burton-based Abbey Law, spoke out after the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) revealed that Burton Police Station will close its cells for up to 12 weeks in September to allow for a refurbishment.
Mr Dean fears that it could lead to Burton Magistrates’ Court, which utilises the cells, closing permanently, and prisoners being transferred more than 25 miles away to court in Cannock.
He said: “Having to go, for example, to Cannock Magistrates’ Court to deal with a Burton prisoner at the same time that I have a trial to cover in Burton will have quite a consequence.
“They haven’t considered any of this at all.
“They are doing these things and not thinking about it.
“We don’t know what we will do. We are a private business and we are very thinly spread, so it will have a massive impact on us and a massive impact on the court, which will get held up.”
Neil O’Driscoll, of Smith Partnership, has written to the chief clerk to ask what exactly the proposals are.
Mr Dean added: “I don’t know why they can’t just refurbish one wing of the cells and keep the others open.
“They will also have to transfer prisoners to Cannock, but at what cost?
“If they close the cells for three months and think nothing was wrong, they could close the court permanently.”
An HM Courts & Tribunals Service spokesman confirmed the cells would close from September 1 for between eight to 12 weeks.
The spokesman said: “During this time the court will be unable to deal with custody cases.
“The local Judicial Business Group will consider the alternative listing arrangements that will be required while the cells are out of use.
“However no decisions have been made.”