Magistrates' watchdog slates Barking court

The Magistrates' Courts Service Inspectorate (MCSI) has slated the management of Barking magistrates' court in a highly critical report published last week.

An MCSI inspection in January found “a lack of leadership” from the Barking and Dagenham Magistrates' Courts Committee (MCC), particularly in the way staff were managed.

The report also criticises how the MCC schedules court hearings, the long waiting times experienced by those using the courts and the low success rate in collecting fines.

It recommends the MCC ensures staff are properly trained and sets up systems to monitor the performance of management.

In a statement, the MCC stressed that the report had also acknowledged its achievements considering, among other things, Barking's “very old and non-purpose-built courthouse”.

But the committee added that it “appreciated that there are still some deficiencies that need to be remedied”.

Robin Wright, Justices' chief executive, said many improvements had already been made.

By December 1998, MCSI aims to have inspected all 96 MCCs in England and Wales.

A spokesman for MCSI said the report showed some “major improvement” was required in Barking.