Inverness Justice Centre opens
Scotland’s first purpose-built justice centre in Inverness opens today.
The new justice centre will operate as one of 10 key court hubs supporting the delivery of justice during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Courts have already ceased jury trials and adjourned all but essential criminal and civil hearings to reduce the need for physical attendance at court. Further moves are planned to allow custodies to appear from police stations by video link, minimising presence in court and travel.
This landmark facility, which began construction in 2017, will bring together integrated justice services under one roof to support victims, witnesses, litigants and other users, with specially designed facilities for children and vulnerable witnesses.
However, while the Inverness Justice Centre will play a pivotal role in maintaining essential justice services for Scotland during the current crisis, SCTS advises that people should stay away from the building unless they must attend for court proceedings.
Anyone who is required to attend the IJC will be subject to strong hygiene and social distancing requirements. Although courts do not provide masks, those who must attend court are welcome to bring their own to use.
In line with health advice, all courts, including the IJC, have an ample supply of hot water and soap for handwashing. There is ongoing cleaning throughout the day and regular sterilisation of touch points. Courts have been providing legal practitioners with regular information in relation to conducting business without appearing in court.
Eric McQueen, chief executive of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, said: “This is a landmark building, which, in the future, will offer Inverness the very best of facilities for court users. There is the unique opportunity for all the organisations involved to have an integrated approach to community justice services with the objective of reducing re-offending.”
Sheriff Principal of Grampian, Highland and Islands, Derek Pyle, said: “This is a milestone for Inverness and gives us so many opportunities. It will offer a new, collaborative approach, bringing together under one roof the courts and tribunals, prosecution, social work, NHS, and other third sector organisations - all providing specialist services. For now it gives us a spacious, clean and digitally enabled centre to operate our services during this coronavirus outbreak.”