Regional traffic courts to fast-track minor motoring cases
There are around half a million summary motoring cases heard every year including speeding, traffic light and document offences. Although these offences are relatively minor they often take longer from offence to completion than much more serious cases.
Under new plans, drivers who jump a traffic light or break the speed limit punished under a fast-track system dealt with by a centralised traffic court in each police area. This would be in place by April 2014.
Justice minister Damian Green said: ‘Enforcing traffic laws is hugely important for road safety and saving lives.
‘However, these cases take nearly six months on average from offence to completion, despite the fact that over 90% of cases result in a guilty plea or are proved in absence – this is simply unacceptable.
‘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.’
The ACPO lead for criminal justice, chief constable Chris Eyre, said: ‘We have implemented this new procedure to traffic cases with great success in nine police forces; radically simplifying and speeding up the process.
‘This is only implemented when there is a guilty plea or where the case against a defendant is not contested. Effective first hearings have significantly reduced the amount of adjournments and a single court can deal with up to 160 cases a day.’
The Institute of Advanced Motorists welcomed the news, with director of policy and research Neil Greig commenting: ‘Many families are rightly upset when the death or serious injury of a loved one appears to attract a short ban or fine. Speeding and red light running are still serious ofences however and these new courts could also help end the scandal of drivers still being allowed on the road after they have amassed more than 12 points.’