A SHERIFF has heavily criticised the decision to axe the court he presided over for the final time due to a nationwide cost-cutting exercise.

Kevin Drummond made his comments after the doors of Peebles Sheriff Court in the Borders were finally closed on Wednesday.

The sheriff had just granted bail in the final ever case to 74-year-old Richard Nichol who appeared in private on charges of the possession and creation of indecent images of children at his home in Hawick, Roxburghshire, between 2003 and 2015.

Sheriff Drummond told a gathering of the local legal fraternity that the court in Peebles, which dates back to Medieval times, had only re-opened 10 years ago as part of a dual-purpose facility. The revamp had seen the local council offices being physically joined to the police station.

He said the present arrangements at Peebles Sheriff Court were "a model for the provision of rural justice services across the country."

He said the closure for financial reasons was difficult to understand as the building made efficient use of police witnesses and custodies.

Sheriff Drummond added that they served an extensive geographical area and there were no court staff employed as it was served by workers based in Selkirk.

All business at Peebles will now be transferred to Selkirk 22 miles away.

Sheriff Drummond said:"After today the building will still be here and the staff will be in Selkirk.

"I am confident that in a year or so someone will exercise the powers available under the Freedom of Information Act and find out just how much has been saved from the public purse by the closure of this fine court.

"I am sad for the solicitors and court practitioners who have served this court with distinction and I am sad too for the people of the county."

Sheriff Drummond helped remove the Sovereign's Court of Arms which hung above the bench to mark the official closure of the court, but said he should perhaps add the words "for the time being."

Hinting at reverting to the current arrangements sometime in the future the sheriff explained:"I can only hope that I may still be around when somebody comes up with the great new, perhaps even revolutionary,

idea that business could be dealt with more cheaply and efficiently by having a court in Peebles with a travelling sheriff."

The sheriff court used to be situated at the foot of the town's High Street from the mid-19th Century but it closed in

2001 after extensive dry rot was discovered.

After a four year absence when cases were heard at Selkirk, Peebles Sheriff Court re-opened in 2005 in the town's Rosetta Road as part of the local council offices and situated beside a new police station.

But Peebles was one of 10 sheriff courts throughout Scotland axed following a review by the

The final sitting of Duns Sheriff Court is next Wednesday(January 28) with business at the Berwickshire town being transferred to Jedburgh 32 miles away.


Other sheriff court closures; Dornoch; Duns; Kirkcudbright; Rothesay; Arbroath; Cupar; Dingwall; Haddington; Stonehaven.