Traffic offences such as speeding and jumping red lights could be dealt with in dedicated traffic courts under new plans devised by ministers.
The plans would see the creation of specialist courts that are dedicated to dealing with minor traffic offences, similar to those used in the United States, in an attempt to alleviate pressure on the magistrates courts system.
Around half a million traffic cases are heard before magistrates every year and cases can often take longer to process than major offences. The creation of dedicated traffic courts is designed, the Ministry of Justice claims, to reduce delays as part of a wider plan to improve Britain’s criminal justice system.
The justice minister Damian Green said: “Enforcing traffic laws is hugely important for road safety and saving lives.
“However, these cases take nearly six months on average from offence to completion, despite the fact that over 90% of cases result in a guilty plea or are proved in absence – this is simply unacceptable.
“The justice system must respond more quickly and effectively to the needs of victims, witnesses and local communities, and these dedicated courts will enable magistrates to better organise their work and drive greater efficiency.”
A pilot scheme has been trialled in some parts of the UK, with the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) reporting a significant reduction in delays. In some cases, courts are hearing as many as 160 cases per day.