The courts estate in England and Wales has changed substantially since 2010, as the justice system has undergone a programme of reform designed to reduce the need for physical attendance at certain types of hearing.
The reforms have involved the closure and sale of several court buildings and the relocation of services elsewhere.
Based on the available information, between 2010 and 2018:
- 162 magistrates’ courts closed, out of 323 (50%)
- 150 constituencies contained a magistrates’ court which closed, with 12 constituencies containing 2 courts which closed
- The sale of court buildings raised around £223 million to the public purse
- The South East saw the most magistrates’ court closures (25), followed by Wales and the North West (22 each)
Data on court closures by constituency
Use this dashboard to find out about court closures in your constituency.
The tables below show courts which have closed or remained open in the constituency and region, and the net revenue generated from sold courts.
The maps show the approximate distance from local areas to the nearest court. Click the ‘2010’ and ‘2019’ buttons to switch between years.
The count of courts here may not tally with those reported elsewhere because some sources count the closure of premises and others count the closure of services in a given location.
These maps show a simplified estimation of these distances, since they show the distance in a straight line between an area and a court, rather than by road or rail.
Small areas within England and Wales (Output Areas (OAs)) have been colour-coded by their distance from the nearest magistrates’ court. A darker shade (of blue, if being viewed in colour), indicates a longer distance. These distances are calculated in a straight line from the population-weighted centre of each OA to the nearest court.
It is assumed that people living in a certain area would be most likely to have used the original court that was closest (in the event that they would have to attend court). This will not have always been the case because courts operate within Local Criminal Justice Board (LCJB) areas and these boundaries have not been taken into account. The ‘receiving’ court of a closed court was supplied by HMCTS. Note that in some cases there were multiple receiving courts for a closed court but, in this analysis, the first listed receiving court only has been used.
- HC127599 Courts: Buildings: Written question (8 February 2018)
- HC 142383 Magistrates’ Courts: Sales: Written question (9 May 2018)
- List of courts from HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) Court Finder and from information supplied to the Commons Library by HMCTS
- House of Commons Library Court statistics for England and Wales, November 2018