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Privatisation of courts not part of the plans for saving funds says MoJ

Date: (28 May 2013)    |    

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The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has dismissed claims that it was actively considering ‘the wholesale’ privatisation of the courts service as part of a radical review to save funds.
However a spokesman has confirmed that it was looking at ways of improving efficiency of HMCTS as part of cost saving review.
While confirming that civil servants were looking at ways of improving the efficiency of the HM Courts & Tribunal Service (HMCTS), the MoJ denied that it planned to outsource all court buildings to a private contractor.
Responding late on Monday night to claims that a sale was actively being considered, a MoJ spokesperson stated that the MoJ had always been saying that it was determined to deliver a courts system that was more effective and efficient and which provide better services for victims and witnesses. But the proposals being considered were not the wholesale privatisation of the courts service as being feared.
He added that the MoJ was committed to the firm, fair and independent administration of justice.
There has been some pressure on the MoJ from the Treasury to make further substantial savings in the coming years. It was already engaged in a consultation exercise aimed at cutting £220m a year out of the criminal legal aid budget.
Transferring HMCTS, which is responsible for all court staff and buildings in England Wales, would be a massive privatisation project
Some privatisation has already occurred since the coalition government took office. More than 100 magistrates and county court buildings deemed surplus to requirement have been closed down and sold off.
Parts of the courts debt collection service have also been subcontracted to private firms.
In February when the Crime and Courts bill was put before the Commons there had been debate on wide ranging topics covering everything from national security, filming in courts, equality in the judiciary, the right to use force to protect home and drug driving.
One of the key issues under consideration was the privatisation of the collection fine enforcement which MPs said could have disastrous consequences as it was likely to see more and more vulnerable people left at the whim of private bailiffs.