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Verdict means Selkirk court will remain open

Selkirk Sheriff Court

Selkirk Sheriff Court

Selkirk Sheriff Court is set to remain open after court chiefs ruled out a single justice centre for the Borders, recommending that both Selkirk and Jedburgh sheriff courts should be retained.

But following the announcement, Christine Grahame MSP urged Scottish Borders Council to keep its options open.

A report just published looked at the feasibility of the justice services in the Borders, with one option being a single justice centre to be used only for the more serious criminal cases and complicated civil hearings, with other cases being heard in different locations across the region.

Ms Grahame had argued for the creation of the justice centre.

She told us: “It is no secret that it was my preference to have a Justice Centre in Galashiels, which would have brought services in the Borders into the 21st century.”

However, the report reveals that the cost of building and fitting out a super court would be around £7.5 million.

Sheriff courts in Peebles and Duns will be axed next year and those in Selkirk and Jedburgh are under review.

Another option was the hub and spoke model – a smaller-scale centre in Galashiels, with Jedburgh as a satellite court.

A third was to retain both Selkirk and Jedburgh. And this week the Scottish Court Services Board backed that option which was supported in a feasibility study conducted by the court service, the council, the police, the Crown Office and Prosecution Service, and Lothian and Borders Community Justice Authority.

But the report stresses the decision is not being made on costs alone – although it is a major factor.

Crime and consequently the number of court cases – and in particular trials – are falling in the Borders.

The report states: “The study comprehensively tested the justice centre model in the context of the Scottish Borders, as well as rigorously examining other options. There is no doubting the appropriateness of the justice concept in the right setting.

“It is also clear, however, that Scotland’s communities do not lend themselves to a one-size-fits-all approach, and that the work of the study has allowed a fully -informed conclusion to be reached.”

Ms Grahame added: “I never endorsed the closure of the court in Selkirk or indeed Jedburgh but it makes no sense to me to have the main population centres in the region without courts.

“My argument was that moving business from Peebles after it closed to an accessible premises with good transport links in Galashiels made sense. With satellite facilities, other areas could also be connected.

“I still think this is what is required and I will be pressing the council to reconsider this option, if not now, then certainly in the future.

“This is not a party political issue . It is about moving with the times and making justice accessible to all those who need it.”

 

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