Further blow for legal services in Carmarthen as plans to close town's CPS office revealed
A REVIEW into court services in Carmarthen could see the town's CPS office closing — but warnings have been made that it could damage the future of justice in the town.
The move would not see any job losses, but staff at the branch would be moved to an office in Swansea.
Mike Grist, area business manager for CPS Wales, said ongoing public spending reviews meant it had to look into how it could make efficiency savings.
"As a result we have been reviewing options for managing and maximising our estate in Wales, in consultation with staff and trades unions," he said, adding that the detail and timescale of the review was still being worked on.
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"However, we do know that the end result will be a smaller number of CPS offices in Wales, with some of our staff moving to larger, more centralised units.
"These larger units will provide us with more robustness in terms of our ability to efficiently manage our workload and improve the quality of the service we provide, while retaining our ability to meet the local needs of all those involved in the criminal justice service."
A preferred option in the review would see CPS Wales retain three large hub offices, in Cardiff, Swansea and North Wales.
"Under this plan, staff from our existing Carmarthen office would relocate to Swansea as a base," said Mr Grist.
"At the same time, our increasing use of technology means that we also have options to conduct some of our work remotely — and this is also being looked at as part of our estate review."
Mr Grist moved to reassure communities that the commitment to services by the CPS would not be affected.
But Mike Reed, a defence solicitor in the town, said the news was a blow for legal services in Carmarthen, which had witnessed the downgrading of the magistrates' court.
He said Carmarthen was ideally placed for outlying areas, but added: "I think it's a great pity and it's sad there's local work in Carmarthen being centrally placed. My fear is that Carmarthen Court within the next few years will completely close, and for a solicitor to deal with criminal work is going to put them in a difficult position."
He said he also had concerns for defendants and their ability to get to court, adding: "I think it's very important justice should be dispensed locally."