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 139.

    my other pet peeve are drivers who have the check to decorate their rear windscreen with "my prince/princess on board" and half the time their kids aint even buckled in !!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    131. Megan

    Pedestrians not looking properly contributes to 10% of accidents, drivers not looking properly contributes too 42% of accidents. Stats from DoT.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Re131 Megan. Given your comment, accidents are cars v pedestrians. What about a car at 35mph hitting a car coming in the other direction. The combined speed could be enough to kill or maim and when an accident between two cars occurs, they don't automatically stay on the road, they can end up on a pavement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    29 Minutes ago

    Oh thank god, now innocent motorists caught doing 36mph in a 30 limit will be procecuted [sic] far more efficiently and the councils can get more money quickly.

    *sarcastic clapping*
    How can you be innocent doing 36mph in a 30, please explain?

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    The 'speed kills' propaganda needs to stop now. Inappropriate speed kills and that should be the message. Motorists are mercilessly persecuted by councils and the emotive 'speed kills' rubbish gives them free reign to pollute our environment with traffic calming and excessive signage everywhere. Sometimes it's entirely safe to go more than 30mph butmany now seem indoctrinated to believe it's a sin

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Don't bother with speeding fines. Just make the penalty for causing death or injury with a vehicle ben run down by your own car. And broadcast the punishment on television. That will make drivers be more careful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

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

    There is no revenue to collect from those who comply with the traffic laws.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Using a mobile whilst driving = £1000 fine + 6 points - few weeks of publicity and problem solved! QED

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    #126 " Some may think doing 35 in a 30 zone is trivial, but at this speed you will kill."

    Only if some daft pedestrian is roaming out on the road where they ought not to be... probably texting or gossiping on a mobile & not paying attention. Takes 2 to have an accident...

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    What about drivers that kill a police officer?...

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    Something ought to be done about the dangerous state of many roads, too.

    If an accident is caused (in part) by the driver taking action to avoid potholes, are the local council guilty of contributory negligence?

    We pay more than enough for our roads, we deserve them to be in better than third-world condition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Traffic offences should be nipped in the bud. Zero tolerance on drink and driving, exceeding speed limits and failure to use seat belts would go a long way in cutting accidents, road fatalities.Traffic rules need to be followed scrupulously. Those who violate traffic regulations regularly should be given stiff fines. No stone should be left unturned in improving driver awareness of their duties.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    I personally support safe diving as I am sure we all do
    Sadly at about 7-30 to 9 and 3-30 to 5 mummies in her unnecessary large 4 wheel drive tank takes the chosen ones to their very very posh schools
    She normally takes too long to put on the necessary make up leaves late and then drives at silly speeds and with total disregard for other road users

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    The biggest cause of an acident is not looking properly, these careless/reckless drivers are killing thousands of people each year, 612 of these deaths were caused by vechicles travelling at 30mph. Some may think doing 35 in a 30 zone is trivial, but at this speed you will kill. The sooner people realise this fact, the safer our roads will become.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    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"

    You obviously have a different definition of the word "innocent" than the generally accepted one or that in use within jurisprudence. Maybe you think texting whilst driving has a higher priority than paying attention to the road.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Yea, we are all such law abiding citizens, even as we reach for the phone to call our lawyers, or our accountants to avoid paying the right taxes, such unblemished safe car drivers, we are, we are just brilliant; as for not knowing what magistrates/judges do, who cares; they are not doing it for our benefit, they too have mortgages to pay!

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    Unfortunately driving involves people. As some people are idiots so I don't think this will make any difference. Perhaps an amendment to the driving test will weed out those unsafe to drive, something like:
    "finally sir, what do you think of deal or no deal?"
    If anyone claims to have a 'system' for the game then they are banned for life from driving or control of any machinery.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    This should be done in all cases where the accused has owned up to an offense, (not only for driving offenses). I have seen lots of money being wasted in murder cases where the accused has pleaded guilty, and then a trial begins to set out what has led up to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    A lot of motoring problems occur because of the way people are taught. They are taught how to pass the test, not how to drive. Doing a lot of driving, I notice that very few drivers actually do it properly - poor indicators, fog lights when its not foggy, don't know what lanes are for, don't know what the national speed limits are, don't know how to stick to speed limits etc etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    What is the point of going to court at all when the offender is willing to accept that they have committed an offence? Just apply the fine, points or remedial training as indicated for the offence committed.

    Better to spend efforts streamlining the ponderous magistrates' courts operations to deal with those accused who wish to contest the charge.


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