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Crown Courts

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs when her Department expects to finalise plans to increase Crown court capacity in Buckinghamshire; and what assessment has been made of providing Crown court facilities at (a) Aylesbury, (b) Milton Keynes and (c) both. (82285)

A strategic business case has been prepared which outlines the need to seek to replace the current Aylesbury Crown court facilities with modern premises that provide additional capacity for the future.

The business case was prepared on the basis of reviewing the current and future requirements for the county of Buckinghamshire including Milton Keynes Unitary Authority.

At this stage it is considered that the facility will be in one location, still to be defined, and will serve the county of Buckinghamshire, including Milton Keynes.

The business case has been submitted to Her Majesty’s Courts Service (HMCS) to be reviewed and receive detailed consideration by the National Property Board in the coming months. If the business case is determined as appropriate, it will be subject to prioritisation in the future HMCS building programme, and will then be dependant on Treasury approval of the HMCS capital spending programme.

In the meantime, the current Crown court requirements for Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes are being reviewed to ensure that all courtroom capacity in the Thames Valley HMCS area is fully utilised to facilitate the early scheduling of cases. This does, on occasions, require the transfer of cases to other locations until a new facility is built to replace Aylesbury Crown court.

It is not anticipated that any new court building would be available before 2010, should it receive an early approval by the National Property Board for inclusion in current and future building schemes.