New justice centres will bring 600 jobs to Midlands

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image captionOne of the centres will be located on Town Road, Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent

Two new legal service centres are to open in the Midlands, bringing more than 600 jobs to the region.

The courts and tribunal centres will open in Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent and will employ around 300 people each.

Justice minister Dominic Raab said the centres, which will process cases, issue court orders and answer queries, formed part of a £1bn transformation of the justice system.

But experts said the justice system risked becoming "computer-based".

'Online divorces'

The government said the two centres would be located on Town Road, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, and Hagley Road, Birmingham, and are expected to be running in 2019.

It said the plans would make several systems, including the collection of criminal fines, faster and more efficient.

The centres would help the legal system move from traditional paper-based processes to modern digital systems so that people can apply for divorces or enter pleas for speeding offences online.

"We are trying to make justice simpler and swifter by bringing more services online, and making courts and tribunals easier to access," the government said.

Mr Raab said: "These new administrative centres will make sure we deliver better services for those using the courts system, while delivering better bang for the taxpayers' buck."

However, Dr Marianne Wade from Birmingham Law School, said: "While it is entirely appropriate that the government moves to utilise modern methods of communication, not all members of the public are comfortable liaising electronically.

"It is important these matters do not become simply an administrative move.

"There is increasing evidence that where citizens face a criminal conviction and fine via an automated system, they are not truly aware of what they are acquiescing to."

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