Why Birmingham Magistrates’ Court is closed and will be shut indefinitely



Birmingham Magistrates’ Court has been forced to close again with no date confirmed for it to be re-opened. The courthouse at Corporation Street in the city centre has had the gate pulled across the front entrance in recent days with security guards and staff present to direct attending defendants on when and where their hearing is due to take place.

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed the ‘temporary’ closure is a precaution while contractors repair the fire alarm. But they were unable to say when the courthouse will re-open with an update on the situation expected next week.

An spokesman from HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) said: “Birmingham Magistrates’ Court is temporarily closed for essential maintenance work. All urgent cases are currently being heard in nearby courts.”

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It follows an alleged incident in May when a cigarette discarded outside the building supposedly caused smoke to spread through the ventilation system and into several courtrooms. That also prompted a temporary closure for a fire safety review to be completed.

But the courthouse had since re-opened only to close again last week. It is further disruption at the venue this year on the back of a huge backlog of criminal cases building up during the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in it being closed for several months before social distancing measures were gradually introduced.

The courthouse, which dates back to 1891, was also shut for a number of weeks earlier this year for a programme of scheduled renovation works, particularly to its most historic courtrooms. The venue typically deals with hundreds of cases a week including youth defendants, traffic offences, low level ‘summary’ offences and first appearances for people charged with the most serious crimes.

Walsall Magistrates’ Court and Coventry Magistrates’ Court are being utilised for urgent cases in the meantime.

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