Don’t let the pursuit for profit overcome that of local justice

I read in your paper with dismay of the latest threat to the future of Spalding Magistrates’ Court.

If the court does close, it will be a consequence of the rapid privatisation of the Criminal Justice System in Lincolnshire by the back door.

The security firm G4S were granted a contract last year to take over the staffing of police custody suites in Lincolnshire.

Another private security firm, GEOAmey, provides staff for the security of our courts.

The custody suite at Spalding Police Station was closed in order for the housing of prisoners to be centralised.

This means that G4S have fewer police stations to staff.

Several consequences flow from the closure of Spalding custody suite: firstly, Spalding police officers have to spend an increasing amount of their valuable time travelling up and down the A16 transporting prisoners rather than policing the streets of Spalding; secondly, G4S makes savings in staffing and therefore has the potential to make more profit.

The recent closure of the cells at Spalding Magistrates’ Court follows complaints by GEOAmey about the safety of the stairs leading from the cells to the court, despite the fact that the building has been renovated in recent years at a cost of thousands of pounds.

As recently as 2010 Lord Justice Golding described plans to close Spalding Magistrates’ Court as “unacceptable”.

If the closure of the cells at the court results in the closure of the court building itself, then several consequences will flow from the decision; firstly, local justice will not be administered by and for local people with the creation of jobs for local people; secondly GEOAmey will make savings in staffing and therefore has the potential to make more profit.

Let us hope that the powers that be at the Home Office have sufficient intelligence to appreciate that the pursuit of justice in Lincolnshire should not be overshadowed by the pursuit of profit for private security firms.

Anita Toal

Managing Partner

Maples Solicitors

New Road

Spalding