Minor traffic offences to be heard by new courts in England and Wales

Traffic Trials of the new courts have been successful, police say

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Dedicated traffic courts are to be set up in England and Wales to prosecute minor motoring offences following a pilot scheme in nine areas.

The move is part of a drive to cut delays in the criminal justice system and free up magistrates' courts to deal with more serious cases.

Each year, 500,000 minor motoring offences go through the courts.

Ministers say such cases clog up the courts, which should be dealing with more serious offences.

Dedicated traffic courts have been piloted in Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Lincolnshire, Metropolitan Police, Nottinghamshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and West Yorkshire and police have said they had successfully "simplified" the legal process.

The plan is to open a traffic court in every police area by April 2014, and to use specialist prosecutors to deal with up to a 160 cases a day.

'Swift justice'

Cases they could hear include speeding, traffic light offences and those relating to insurance and driving licences.

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

Justice Minister Damian Green said enforcing traffic laws was hugely important for road safety but the time it was taking to hear cases - especially those when drivers had accepted their guilt - was "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," he said.

Labour said it welcomed moves to make courts more efficient and specialised.

"It is important that we have swift justice, and I look forward to seeing results of how this works in practice," said the party's shadow justice spokesman Sadiq Khan.

But Mr Khan said the measures amounted to "low-hanging fruit" and much bigger savings could be identified through a root-and-branch review of the courts and prosecution systems.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Interesting that the Government are planning to set up an entire court system for hearing "minor" offenses but are unwilling to fund a police force to tackle more serious crime. Ok so a crime is a crime but shall we put this into perspective and deal with guns, drugs, tax evasion, fraud and muggings first and then move on to parking offenses and driving 80mph on a dry clear motorway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    Re100 Matt. If the limit is 30mph and you do 36mph, you're innocent?? How does that work? It's almost like saying to a burglar, we'll let you off as the door wasn't locked. Do you really believe you are innocent if you go over the speed limit??? I sincerely hope you don't live in my area!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Good. Traffic offences are offences, like anything else, and need to be dealt with. Things such as texting while your driving is life threatening.

    Swift, efficient, justice is what's needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    Whilst I agree with several of the views expressed here, I think maybe it's time something called "common sense" is applied to both driving & the persecution of many drivers! for a start, lets see the abandonment of the "dirty tricks" used by old bill, like hiding behind walls & hedges with their toy ray guns etc!but also lets see an improvement in driver's behaviour whilst behind the Wheel !

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    the priority here is to more efficiently collect revenue. Nothing to do with public safety.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    To paraphrase Goering, when I hear the words " The police have simplified the legal process", I reach for my truth-meter. All this means is that yet more drivers will be threatened, blackmailed and forced into paying fines without due process. The police are the enemies of free speech, freedom of movement and, when it suits them, of the law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    If the state insists on punishing people for something as minor as munching a sandwich at the wheel, then it will need hundreds of traffic courts.

    Far too many petty motor regulations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    >Why catch criminals when you can pick on people you can criminalise >instead.

    With a rise of 12% in pedestrian deaths (that's car drivers killing people walking) and 6% rise in passenger deaths I think the driving is criminally bad in this country.

    You can dismiss Police enforcing the law, but next time it could be you or someone you love.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Put GPS black boxes in all vehicles. It's the only way to be sure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    A generally good idea to create special courts for these offenses.

    Every single day I see mostly men phoning whilst driving and mostly women actually texting whilst driving. Upping the fine to £90 recently is just nowhere near enough. It should be a £250 minimum and 9 points on your licence, perhaps only when you are on the brink of losing your licence you may stop and think about using it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    Another relevant thought, it’s about time that we had a separate traffic police division that could be paid for by the fines raised from law breakers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Maybe they should make them drive through?

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    While politicians do time for lying about their speeding to avoid a ban? Incredible, it appears they want the electorate to toe the line, but a different rule for them - no change there then; one lot makes the rules for us plebs, while they themselves believe they are exempt from the rules laid down for us, only in class divided britain!

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    I applaud the Government for this self-funding job-creation scheme.

    There are, however, other ways of tackling the problem; in Scotland we have the ‘110 day rule’ whereby if your case isn’t heard within that time it’s abandoned.

    The result is that the most important cases are prioritised, and an element of common sense prevails.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    To be honest, I like speed cameras...it means I can drive round my local area at any speed I like and only have to slow down for the cameras - whilst safe in the knowledge there won't be a policemen jumping out behind a bush..!!

    This not my view, but that of a teenager I know......slightly worrying you must admit..!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Given the appalling quality of CPS prosecutors, why should we trust them to be able to sentence appropriately and indeed shouild they?. Magistrates are highly trained and have the authority of the Crown so to act. What if a 'simple' guilty plea in fact involves someone who faces a 'totting disqualification' and then wishes to argue exceptional hardship - a technical legal argument? Stupid idea

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Driving kills and injures thousands every year, so I deplore this apparent trivialization of driving offenses.
    BUT - there should be more discretion. The system is clogged by people a few mph over a limit when no-one is about; while those who kill, injure, drive grossly fast, deliberately ignore lights, cut in at junctions etc. too often go unpunished.
    More traffic police, less court-time - yes!

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    I sincerely hope the first intake are the serial mobile 'phone users. What is so important on a text or mobile call that makes people believe it's safe to drive and talk/text at the same time? I wouldn't just give them three points, I'd confiscate the 'phone as well! I wonder what the level of punishment would need to be to stop these idiots?

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Can they also put road signs with numbers on dual carriage ways which only have national speed limit signs on them. The number of times I've been driving at 70mph and then had to suddenly slow down to 60 cos the idiot infront of me doesn't know the speed limit and slows down to 60 for the speed camera. Ridiculous

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Oh thank god, now innocent motorists caught doing 36mph in a 30 limit will be procecuted far more efficiently and the councils can get more money quickly. Oh and people who want to appeal will feel its better just to admit guilt as they get to go through this streamlined 'service' instead of face a magistrates to prove innocence!!

    *sarcastic clapping*


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