Lack of judges at Crown Court

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Crown Court rooms in the region have been shut during the half term holiday as there are not enough judges to hear cases.

There are currently seven crown court rooms in the county - three in Cambridge, two in Peterborough and two in Huntingdon, and five full time judges.

Visiting judges and recorders - part time judges - normally fill the other court rooms.

This week and next week the Huntingdon court has been out of action because there were not enough judges to sit.

A spokesman for the Judiciary Service said: “All five of the full time judges in Cambridgeshire had been allocated to priority cases in the region this week. Due to the high demand during the half-term holiday it wasn’t possible to use two Recorders to fill the short term vacancies.”

Currently most Peterborough cases are heard at the Crown Court in the city - but preliminary hearings and sentencings could move this summer, it has also been revealed.

A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) said: “In July 2016 we will be centralising our two Crown Court administrative offices in Cambridgeshire into Cambridge Crown Court. This change was formally consulted on earlier this year.

“As a result of this change proposals have also been put forward to create a centralised administration courtroom for Cambridgeshire in Cambridge which will hear all Pre Trial Preliminary hearings.

“This would allow the remaining courtrooms (two each in Cambridge, Huntingdon and Peterborough) to concentrate on Trials and any ancillary reserved matters and sentences.”

The spokesman said it was not anticipated there would be any redundancies as a result of the plans.

They added: “It is anticipated that if we can create courts in Cambridgeshire which solely concentrate on trial work and make better use of the latest technology such as video links we can reduce delays and waiting times significantly.”

The spokesman said a final decision about the proposals had not yet been made.