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Only 2% of Britain’s courthouses are fully accessible, says law firm

Unequal Access to Justice 1

Only 2% of courthouses in Britain are fully accessible, according to research by specialist law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, which has highlighted a “dire need for change”.

The firm assessed 444 courthouses in England, Scotland and Wales on 11 accessibility criteria, including the availability of disabled parking, lifts, hearing loop systems, interview rooms and accessible toilets and offering wheelchair access.

It found that just eight courthouses met these criteria, three of which are based in the South West of England.

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The research also found that over three quarters (84%) are not fully accessible for wheelchairs.

Just 16% of courthouses in England, Scotland and Wales offer wheelchair access, disabled parking and accessible toilets.

No courthouses in the East of England or Yorkshire and the Humber offer all three forms of accessibility.

The past decade has seen the government follow a programme of reforms designed to improve the courthouse process for all users. However, while accessibility was a factor in these reforms, the closure of courthouses disproportionately affected people with accessibility issues, Bolt Burdon Kemp said. 

Campaigners also say that ease of access hasn’t improved significantly enough. 

Bold Burdon Kemp said that while some courthouses do make the effort to offer facilities to support vulnerable people, and people with caring needs, “more must be done” to improve what’s on offer across the country. 

“Those who work within the court system – from the government, to courthouse building managers and judges and solicitors – need to make a collective effort to help improve access to justice for all,” the firm said.

“Individuals should ensure they are aware of the needs of the vulnerable, as this is the only way they can truly appreciate and understand how to improve. From making improvements to court buildings, to providing dedicated spaces for vulnerable parties, it’s important to make a commitment to pioneer change.”

Tags : accessibilityresearch
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke

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