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Introduction

HM Courts & Tribunal Service (HMCTS) is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. It is responsible for supporting the independent judiciary in the administration of criminal, civil and family courts and tribunals in England and Wales and for non-devolved tribunals in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In 2016, HMCTS launched an ambitious portfolio of reforms that aimed to modernise the justice system, reduce complexity and provide new ways for people to engage. HMCTS intends to achieve its aims by introducing new technology and working practices to modernise the administration of justice, moving activity out of the courtroom, streamlining processes and introducing digital channels for people to access services. Recognising that many of its sites are in poor condition, unfit for modern ways of working and underutilised, in 2015, HMCTS introduced a programme to consolidate its estate. This focused on sites in good condition with modern facilities, situated in important locations to better match capacity to demand. In 2015, the HMCTS estate included 468 court and tribunal buildings in England and Wales. HMCTS has since closed 127 of these courts and tribunals. Its rationale for reducing the estate is to make better use of good-quality sites in key locations and match the planned fall in demand for physical hearings resulting from reform. By reducing its footprint, HMCTS expects to reduce operational costs and generate income from sales to fund reform.

Instructions: how to use this visualisation

All the graphics are interactive.

  • Hovering over points on the map gives you the name of a site location.
  • Clicking on a point on the map produces a pop-up with more detailed information about the site location.
  • Clicking on the regions of the map produces a chart and table to the left of the map, providing information about the locations in that region.
  • The time slider on the left can be used to ‘play’ the changes to the estates over time from 2015 to March 2019, or to select a specific point in time you would like to view on the map.
  • To return to the England and Wales overview charts, click off the map anywhere in the sea.
  • If an error message displays, please refresh the page to reload.

The visualisation

This visualisation displays the HMCTS estate, how it has changed between 2015 and March 2019 and where closures have taken place.

Accessibility note

This visualisation presents data in the form of interactive maps and graphics. If you cannot access the data in this format, the raw data is provided below as a comma separated data file (csv).

Raw data file alternative in csv format

If you need additional help, you can phone the NAO Enquiries Point on +44(0)2077987264. Alternatively, you can email general enquiries to enquiries@nao.org.uk or use our online contact form.

Direct link to the visualisation application (better for mobile devices): https://nao-mesh.shinyapps.io/HMCTS_Estate_Closures/

Frequently asked questions

Click for answers

Where does this data come from?

The data underlying this visualisation has been collated from estates management information provided to the NAO by HMCTS, and from information available online through the HMCTS Court and Tribunal finder. A copy of the data underlying this visualisation is available in spreadsheet format to download.

Why has the NAO published this data?

This visualisation has been released as a supplementary output to our update report on the HMCTS reform programme.

Why does the information only cover England and Wales?

Justice is a devolved matter in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The National Audit Office report covers only court and tribunal sites in England and Wales, which HMCTS administers. The visualisation and report do not include the non-devolved tribunals in Scotland and Northern Ireland administered by HMCTS.

Where can I get more information?

The HMCTS Court & Tribunal finder provides information on the sites currently active in the HMCTS estate. This service enables a search of the active HMCTS estate by court name or address, area of law, an A-Z list of courts, or the court location code.

For sites that have closed following a public consultation, information on their closure is made available in consultation response documents that are published by HMCTS once a decision on an outcome is made. Historic and current public consultations and their responses can be found through the Ministry of Justice’s Consultation Hub

My question is not answered here, where can I get more information?

Phone the NAO Enquiries Point on +44(0)2077987264.

Alternatively, you can email general enquiries to enquiries@nao.org.uk or use our online contact form.