LEGAL bosses have reiterated assurances that police chiefs will continue to allow the use of cells for prisoners attending Burton Magistrates' Court – after rumours circulated that this might no longer be the case after refurbishment work was completed.
HM Courts and Tribunals Service, in a letter to solicitors, confirmed that, although the police cells will be closed from September 1 for 12 weeks as part of a revamp, they will then reopen and the court will be allowed to use the Burton Police Station facilities.
This comes after concerns were raised that plans were afoot to not return to using the cells at Burton Police Station but instead transfer custody cases to Cannock.
Stephen Abbott, acting clerk to the justices of Staffordshire and West Mercia Magistrates' Court, stated in the letter: "You will be aware that the police propose to do work to the cells of the police station which will mean that they will be unavailable for a period of time.
"I have been advised that this will now take place from September 1 for up to 12 weeks.
"We have considered options to deal with the work at this time and this will see Burton cases involving defendants being produced from custody having cases heard at Cannock Magistrates' Court.
"Burton bail cases will continue to be heard at Burton Magistrates' Court, but any adjournments for pre sentence reports will be listed in Cannock.
"These are purely temporary arrangements, intended to cover the period of the refurbishment only.
"I understand that there have been rumours that the police will not allow the court to resume the use of the cells following the refurbishment.
"I have been in contact with Staffordshire Police and received the assurance that there are no planned changes to the existing arrangements.
"The court sitting programmes are being reviewed to take into account the changes required.
"Court sitting programmes will be circulated in due course but there are no major changes for the type of work listed at each venue during the cell closure or thereafter.
"In summary, there is an overall reduction of two sessions per week at both Burton and Cannock.
"At Burton, there will be one session less on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and at Cannock two sessions less on Mondays.
"The two sessions at Cannock comprise of domestic violence cases and such work will be spread across the week in the general court lists."
Details of the closure will be displayed at the court when plans are finalised.