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Blackfriars Crown Court under threat of closure; is ILCC next?

Southwark could lose two of its three crown courts under plans published this week by the Government to close Blackfriars Crown Court and sell its "high value" site for development.

Blackfriars Crown Court

HM Courts and Tribunals Service this week launched a consultation on plans to shut Blackfriars Crown Court in Pocock Street. The consultation document indicates that Inner London Crown Court in Newington Causeway might eventually close too, with Southwark Crown Court by the River Thames becoming the sole venue for crown court sittings in the borough.

The courts service says that across Greater London, crown courtrooms are only used to 80 per cent of their capacity.

According to the consultation document, "Blackfriars is the smallest of the three courts in the London Borough of Southwark (nine courtrooms compared with ten in Inner London and 15 in Southwark).

"Its location means that the site has a high value, and the building could not easily be enlarged without demolition of the entire site."

The consultation document continues: "Ultimately, the court and tribunal estate in the London Borough of Southwark might be consolidated into one site in the borough.

"Our initial thoughts are that Southwark Crown Court might be the most suitable site for longer term retention. It is the largest site in the borough, and has the potential to be extended which means that it could provide greater long-term flexibility and efficiency.

"It is in a better condition than Inner London Crown Court, which has serious maintenance issues."

The freehold of Inner London Crown Court is owned by lighthouse charity Trinity House.
If the closure of Blackfriars Crown Court goes ahead, its workload would be split between Wood Green, Harrow, Kingston and Inner London Crown Courts.

The Pocock Street court building opened in 1993 and was initially known as Knightsbridge Crown Court, but gained its present name in 1999. The building costs less than 1.5 million a year to run.

• The public consultation runs until 29 March.

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