Proof that closing our courts was criminal

Justice is a corner stone of our society – it is there to ensure that fairness prevails ... for both accused and accuser.

Scotland prides itself in having – virtually – its own, and in many ways, unique legal system. It is not perfect. Few legal systems are, but they are adapted and improved over centuries.

But a report now shows that not all changes are for the better. Scotland’s court administrators decided to close the sheriff courts in Peebles and Duns. JP courts suffered the same sentence. Courts only remained in Selkirk and Jedburgh.

The report by Audit Scotland proves, beyond reasonable doubt, that that decision was wrong. It has revealed that four out of 10 criminal cases in the sheriffdom of the Lothians and the Borders take more than six months to reach a conclusion – well outwith Holyrood’s expectations. And if criminal cases take this long, it’s a fair bet civil matters are also falling behind.

Local lawyers and sheriffs opposed the closures and warned of the consequences. But their pleas went unheard. That wasn’t justice. Now they have been proven right.