The North East’s magistrates’ courts were closed from Tuesday for all-but-urgent cases and those where the defendant is in custody.
Following Boris Johnson’s announcement of tough new measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, which include only allowing people to leave their homes under specific circumstances, the region’s courthouses shut their doors to members of the public.
Only remand cases - where defendants have been charged with an offence and then kept in custody by the police - urgent cases, such as applications for Domestic Violence Protection Orders, and cases via video link will be heard in one courtroom each at North Tyneside, South East Northumberland and South Tyneside.
All other matters, such as where the accused is on bail or has been summoned to appear at court via a postal requisition, will be adjourned until a later date.
Staff members and security were on the doors on Tuesday, advising that only personnel directly linked to an urgent case, such as a defence solicitor or a prosecutor, would be allowed into the buildings.
A tweet on Tuesday morning from HM Courts & Tribunal Service read: “Magistrates’ Courts will only hear urgent cases today (overnight custody & prisoner production).
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