BOLTON South-East MP Yasmin Qureshi has called for the end of the government's 'fire sale' of court buildings.

The Labour legal affairs spokeswoman said the 'reckless closure programme' was creating backlogs of cases.

Ms Qureshi tackled Junior justice minister Chris Philp on the issue in the House of Commons.

In 2017 Bolton Magistrates Court in Le Mans Crescent was moved into the Crown Court building in Black Horse Street to replace the family court which had moved to Manchester. It was put on sale in June last year.

Ms Qureshi told Mr Philp: "The fire sale of our courts and deep cuts to our justice system have created a perfect storm as courts are left sitting empty even while sitting days are cut.

"On average serious cases in the Crown Court are taking 133 days longer to move from the offence to completion than in 2010, leaving victims waiting months and months more for their day in court. That is not good enough.

"Will you commit to providing proper investment in courts and court staff and promise to end the reckless closure programme?"

Mr Philp said: "Over the past nine years there has been a significant reduction in the total number of criminal offences, from about 9.5 million in 2010 to about 6.5 million today.

"Bearing in mind the reduction in the number of criminal offences, one would expect to have fewer sitting days.

"The outstanding case load is at its lowest level since 2001. If necessary, we will increase Crown Court sitting days."