HARTLEPOOL’S youth court will close in a matter of weeks leaving children accused of crimes and their families to travel 15 miles to have their cases heard.
Hartlepool Youth Court, which is based at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court in York Road, Hartlepool, will cease functioning in April.
The court service, which has dealt with alleged young criminals for decades, will now be transferred to Teesside Magistrates’ Court in Victoria Square, Middlesbrough.
This means that all under 18s who are charged with crimes in Hartlepool will have to make their way through to Middlesbrough along with a parent or carer who must accompany youths at court hearings.
Adjournments and delays to hearings will also mean that several trips to Middlesbrough will potentially be needed, all adding to the cost and inconvenience of the extra travel.
Closure rumours have been circulating for weeks, but it was only yesterday that a spokeswoman for HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) confirmed the move.
The admissions came after a 13-year-old boy appeared at Hartlepool Youth Court on Thursday charged with assault by beating to which he pleaded not guilty. The clerk of the court was forced to send the case to Teesside Magistrates’ Court because a trial date could not be fixed until April – when Hartlepool Youth Court would no longer exist.
A HMCTS spokeswoman said the closure was to make best use of resources.
She said: “HMCTS, in conjunction with the judiciary, routinely reviews listing arrangements, taking into account changes in workload, in order to make the best use of resources and facilities for users and taxpayers alike. From April work from the youth court at Hartlepool will move to Teesside Magistrates’ Court due to a reduction in youth court business. The new listing arrangements will be kept under review.”