Community justice centre set to close

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Community justice centre in Boundary Street © Google Earth

Community justice centre in Boundary Street © Google Earth

Liverpool’s Police and Crime Commissioner has admitted that the closure of a community justice centre in the north of the city could potentially lead to a rise in crime.

Jane Kennedy’s comments come following the announcement from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) that the Kirkdale centre is set to close after eight years.

Kennedy told JMU Journalism: “Some will find it harder to get help with drugs and alcohol and this could potentially lead to a rise in crime if offenders lose judge-led direction.

“It is deeply disappointing for the judges and staff who have brilliantly shown a new way to deliver justice and it is sad for the potentially lost opportunity to change criminal behaviour.”

The centre, on Boundary Street, mainly focusses on helping offenders bring something back to the community with judges monitoring their treatment programmes and community punishments.

Kennedy added: “It is this judge-led approach which is so powerful a tool to help reduce an offenders criminal behaviour. The judge not only hears the case and passes judgement but also supervises the sentence, especially where alternatives to a prison sentence are handed down.

“The offender may be required to attend a range of services which actually help them break through their problems and change their lives. It’s very inspiring to watch the judges hold their review courts where this process happens.”

Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner vows to retain services

Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner vows to retain services

But the closure of the centre will stop these services with them moving elsewhere.

Labour councillor Malcom Kennedy, Cabinet Member for Regeneration , told JMU Journalism: “This is not good as the centre did great work, it gives us a problem with an empty building in the heart of Kirkdale.”

The Ministry of Justice said closure would save money and claimed that nearby courts could take on the services the centre offers.

An MOJ spokesman told the BBC: “The centre’s workload has fallen to the point that it is difficult to justify keeping a building open that is both expensive to run and has a low volume of work as a single courtroom centre.”

The centre was under evaluation in 2011 after the announcement of public spending cuts and the Ministry of Justice admitting it was difficult to assess the centre’s impact.

Commissioner Kennedy, who is also chair of the Merseyside Criminal Justice Board, will be working closely with a senior representative from Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service to ensure a transition of the centre that preserves services.

An exact date for the centre closing has not been finalised but the MoJ has a lease break for March 2014.

About Gemma Sherlock, JMU Journalism