This summer, I managed to acquire work experience with one of the Spalding law firms, and as a result of this, spent a day in Spalding Magistrates’ Court.
Upon walking through the door, I was greeted by the security officer exclaiming, “I know you, you’ve been here before”.
I am now a second year Law student at Nottingham Trent University; however, it was a PSHE school visit with Spalding High School to the court, which led me on this path.
As a year nine girl, being able to walk down to the court and view proceedings for 40 minutes during a lesson was a real privilege.
It was during this time, sitting in the beautifully architectured courtroom, that I decided that the legal path was the right one for me. And a further class trip during Sixth Form further reiterated this feeling.
I personally believe that the closure of Spalding Magistrates’ Court has a wider impact on the youth of Spalding than maybe others believe. How many classes of young pupils will miss out on the chance to walk down to a local court and just sit there and watch what goes on?
Many people within society do not even know what happens in a courtroom, they may believe that court proceedings are held behind closed doors, and this is why a local court with a viewing gallery is such an important thing to have within a community.
Obviously, the closure is also going to affect matters legally, as reported when during the three week closure due to a leaking roof 40-50 per cent of cases went unheard because people either wouldn’t, or couldn’t, travel to Grantham Magistrates’ Court, and, I believe that this number will grow with time.
To travel to either Boston or Grantham Magistrates, as will happen once Spalding Magistrate’s Court closes fully, will now take a full day, especially with case delays, and this means that defendants will no longer be able to return to work after a court hearing.
For many who have maybe turned to crime due to a lower standard of living, this is a crucial factor weighing on their attendance at court.
And yes, there are public transport links to both the proposed sites for relocation, however, anyone who actually lives in Lincolnshire knows how seldom these are on time and again, the costs for those with lower incomes or no income at all, are too great for some.
The closure will also impact Spalding’s economy.
If defendants know that their cases are going to be allocated at either Grantham or Boston, will they seek advice from Spalding’s solicitors?
If they do they will then have to cover the costs of travel and time for travel for their solicitors, unfortunately a necessary evil.
Or, will they just seek advice from solicitors located nearer the new courts that, will be able to do what our solicitors once did, and walk to represent them.
Leaving Spalding Magistrates’ Court on that wet Thursday afternoon this summer, the security officer turned round to me and said “Good luck. Make sure that you keep going”.
I will but, unfortunately for many others, Spalding Magistrates’ Court will not.
Eleanor Harrison (20)
LLB Law SW student at Nottingham Trent University