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Magistrates Courts

Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 11 July 2006

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the facilities available for victims and witnesses in magistrates courts. (84525)

In 2005 “Priority Minimum Standards” (e.g. availability of reading materials, witness room routinely cleaned) and “Desirable Minimum Standards” (e.g. en-suite toilet facilities in witness waiting rooms, video/DVD equipment provided) for witness accommodation were developed and defined in consultation with key stakeholders. To establish how existing waiting facilities met up to these standards, an audit was undertaken in all Crown and magistrates courts in July 2005. Subsequent to that audit, additional funding totalling over £3 million was allocated between the regions to improve facilities where the standards were not being met. A further audit will be undertaken during the summer to ascertain how witness waiting rooms measure up against the standards now that this funding has been spent.