One year after opening pilot community justice centers in North Liverpool and Salford, Lord Chancellor Falconer (essentially the UK's chief court administrator) announced that ten new courts will be opened across England and Wales, and other jurisdictions encouraged to adopt this new approach.
The ultimate goal: "to see community courts in every part of England and Wales in the next two years," according to Lord Falconer.
The ten court projects are slated for Birmingham, Bradford, Devon and Cornwall, Hull, Leicestershire, Merthyr Tydfill, Middlesbrough, Nottingham and London. Planners will be spending the next few months meeting with community residents to learn about their concerns.
Lord Falconer's announcement shows not only the increasingly international appeal of the community court model, but the powerful role that national leaders can play in advancing the movement.
I'm hopeful that community courts in the UK will serve as a laboratory of innovation, providing ideas and new approaches that can be adopted in the Bronx. For example, based on the example of the Salford Community Court, we're looking at creating a "Judge For Yourself" event, in which citizens meet with judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys and discuss how the court responds to real-life low-level criminal cases.
We'll be following the UK's experience over the next months to see how our partners are doing across the Atlantic!