CRIMINAL cases are increasingly being delayed or adjourned because people are unable to get to court buildings, according to police. 

Thames Valley Police's Detective Chief Inspector Craig Kirby gave evidence to parliament's Justice Committee earlier today as part of its review into recent judicial reforms which have seen the closure of courts, including the one in Banbury.

He said the longer distances people now have to travel, and problems with access to public transport, meant that cases were taking longer to resolve. 

He added: "Because of public transport issues we are seeing a lot of work having to go into delaying hearings and, at times, cases having to be adjourned because victims and witnesses are simply unable to get to the courts."

Mr Kirby also conceded more officer time was being spent travelling to court and said the force were now investing in new technologies including video-link software to attempt to address the problems.

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He said the force welcomed any attempt to make the system more efficient as delays were 'one of the biggest threats to justice'. 

But, he said, courts were struggling to accommodate the increasing 'digitalisation' of processes and called on the Government to involve police forces more closely when planning reforms in future. 

He said: "It sometimes feels to us that this is being directed upon us rather than us being involved in supporting the changes and managing the potential consequences locally."

He said TVP has committed to providing all evidence digitally by 2020, and invested significantly in achieving this, only to find it is being printed out for juries anyway because of a lack of facilities in jury rooms. 

After court closures, live video links have had to be used more frequently as it is estimated officers lose four hours in attending every court case, according to Mr Kirby. 

He said the force has had to foot the bill for all improvements with no help from the Government. 

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He added: "All the time we are following up and dealing with the consequences as they happen rather than being involved earlier where we could potentially avoid some of these or at least help minimise them."

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis, who sits on the committee, said her constituents were struggling to get to Oxford since the closure of the town's court due to the city's chronic traffic problems.