‘Fit for the future: transforming the court and tribunal estate’ – UK government consultation

Carceral geographers working on court spaces and spaces of trial and adjudication may wish to contribute to a UK government consultation on the proposed future strategy for HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) in its approach to court and tribunal estate reform in England and Wales.

Consideration of court spaces has been a recent focus in research in carceral geography, wider human geography, and more generally. For example, Carolyn McKay‘s recent work has queried video links from prison, and the nature of court ‘appearances’. And Alex Jeffrey‘s recent piece, the first in his series of essays on Legal Geography in Progress in Human Geography is a case in point – in this paper, he examines the spatiality of court processes, connecting interdisciplinary work that has considered the physical processes of trials with geographical work that has deepened understandings of the substance and properties of the material world. The specific focus of the first discussion is the built materiality of courts, tracing the emergence of work on the nature of trial spaces, court architecture and the arrangement of courtrooms. Rather than a review of progress in an already-defined intellectual field, he brings together an interdisciplinary set of works with the aim of tracing the future pathways for work on the geography of trials.

Jeffrey 2017

In this paper, he urges a rethinking of ‘the nature of human presence within court spaces. Rather than the rigid imagination of ‘front’ and ‘back’ stage, a focus on materiality encourages a retheorization of the permeability of the building and the courtroom, enmeshed as bodies are within both visible and invisible technological, social and physical infrastructures.’ (Jeffrey 2017, 7)

There are further details of the ongoing consultation here. 

According to the consultation website, the proposals detailed in the consultation document “have been identified following careful consideration of the ways in which we can improve the justice system. The [consultation] document sets these proposals within the wider context of the modernisation work underway in HMCTS and discusses our proposals for evaluating how our estate should change as a result. The consultation is aimed at court and tribunal users, legal professionals and bodies, the judiciary and magistracy and all other individuals with an interest in the court and tribunal estate in England and Wales.”

The consultation closes on 29 March 2018