Herefordshire’s decision not to invest in the Shirehall in Hereford undermines justice in the county, the region’s head of policing has said.

The grade II*-listed building in the city’s St Peter’s Square houses two courts and a “custody suite”, but they have been out of use since part of the ceiling collapsed in June 2020.

West Mercia police and crime commissioner John Campion said Herefordshire “needs suitable and fully functioning court facilities”.

“The current lack of a crown court denies all parties access to the justice they deserve,” he said.

“For victims, that means prolonging the emotional impact and harm of crime. For offenders, it means they can successfully avoid justice, potentially for years, before going to trial.”


In West Mercia, the police area which covers Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, the number of cases in the backlog has risen by more than 70 per cent since before the pandemic.

Mr Campion warned that this backlog “represents a dire situation for communities and is currently only getting worse”.

He added: “The central questions around crown court provision in Herefordshire and the future of Shirehall are questions that need to be led by His Majesty’s Court Service and Herefordshire Council respectively.”

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Last week Herefordshire Council’s cabinet unanimously voted to put on hold any decision on the future of the building, which also previously served as a music and public events venue, due the financial pressure it is currently under.

But council leader Coun David Hitchiner said in the meeting: “It’s vitally important for us as a county that we have a judicial facility such as this.

“It's not convenient to have to travel to Worcester, particularly for people who are struggling to have access to justice.”