Changes being brought in from November will see magistrates at the court in Highfield Road, Dartford, dishing out justice for fewer days because, it is said, crime figures have fallen.
North Kent Magistrates Court, Highfield Road, Dartford.
The court deals with cases from across north Kent, including Gravesend, Northfleet, Swanscombe, Dartford, the towns and villages on the outskirts and parts of south east London.
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson said: “These changes try to ensure that the court is fully utilised on the days that it is operational.
“The changes mean that Dartford Magistrates’ Court will open three days a week and I believe that during those three days the court will be working to capacity.
“The fact that this decision has had to be made is due to the falling number of criminal cases which are coming before our local courts. This is supported by figures which show that crime is falling in this area.”
Back in 2010, a number of courts were listed by the Ministry of Justice for closure because they were deemed “under used”.
After public consultation, Ashford and Sittingbourne both lost their courts. Gravesend county court in King Street was one of the 54 county courts earmarked for closure as part of the government’s spending review and this too closed.
An HM Courts and Tribunals Service spokesman said of the latest decision for Dartford: “From November 4, Dartford Magistrates’ Court will stop sitting on Tuesdays to reflect the fact that criminal workload continues to fall.
"The court will continue to sit on Mondays, Wednesday and Thursdays.
“No decisions have been made in regards to any future court closures, but HMCTS continues to keep the use of its estate under review to ensure it meets operational requirements.
"Any new proposals to close courts beyond those already announced will be subject to consultation.”
Dartford court deals with fines on a Friday, which will continue.
Mr Johnson added: “I would certainly oppose any move to close Dartford Magistrates’ Court. I believe that the great benefit of the magistrates system is that justice is accessed and administered on a local level.
“The staff and magistrates at the court work extremely hard to ensure that we have a localised approach to justice in Dartford and I certainly would not want that to change.
“If the court were to close then it would mean longer travelling distances for staff, magistrates and witnesses. Before I was elected as the MP for Dartford I worked as a solicitor at the court on many occasions and found it to be a very tough but fair court.
"If it were ever to close then Dartford would lose one of its most unsung assets.”