Milton Keynes Magistrates Court is staying open amid the coronavirus outbreak

    Milton Keynes Magistrates Court is one of the 158 courts across England and Wales to remain open during the coronavirus crisis.

    The court at 301 Silbury Boulevard has been named among a network of “priority courts” to remain open during the coronavirus pandemic to make sure the wheels of justice continue to turn.

    England and Wales’ court network is being reduced to a core from 371 crown, magistrates, and family courts to 158 priority court and tribunal buildings for face to face hearings. The changes will come into force on Monday (March 30).

    Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service and the judiciary has designed the trimmed down system to focus on the “most essential cases”.

    The Government says the changes are temporary and will ensure effective social distancing for all court users and for cleaning and security work to be focused on fewer buildings.

    Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said: “We are facing an unprecedented challenge and the government’s absolute priority is to save lives and protect the NHS.

    “With each part of our justice system – from police to probation – dependent on one another, it is vital that we keep our courts running.

    “This will only be done while ensuring the safety of the public, judges, legal professionals, staff and all those attending hearings and I’d like to thank everyone for their extraordinary efforts so far.”

    The courts are also using technology to ensure many cases can continue but not everything can be dealt with remotely, so they have to keep some of the network open. 

    Members of the public and the press are still being allowed to attend court hearings in person, if safe to do so. They want to keep the principle of justice being done openly.  But where they judge it not to be possible, they will be able to join a hearing remotely or have a transcript afterwards.

    A further 124 court and tribunal buildings will remain closed to the public but open to HM Courts and Tribunal (HMCTS) staff, the judiciary and those from other agencies.

    These ‘staffed courts’ will support video and telephone hearings, progress cases without hearings and ensure continued access to justice.

    All remaining courts and tribunals will close temporarily.

    The changes will come into effect on Monday, March 30 and will be kept in place “as long as necessary to comply with government and public health advice and will be reviewed regularly.”

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