Two thirds of the magistrates' courts in Thames Valley have closed since 2010

Two thirds of the magistrates' courts in Thames Valley have closed over the last decade, figures show.

Experts are concerned that widespread court closures could deny people access to justice.

Two thirds of the magistrates' courts in Thames Valley have closed since 2010

Two thirds of the magistrates' courts in Thames Valley have closed since 2010

House of Commons library data reveals that 10 of the 15 magistrates' courts in the area have shut since 2010:

Witney Magistrates' Court

Didcot Magistrates' Court

Wantage Magistrates' Court

West Berkshire (Newbury) Magistrates' Court

Maidenhead (East Berkshire) Magistrates' Court

Bicester Magistrates' and Family Court

Amersham Magistrates' Court

Aylesbury Magistrates' Court

Banbury Magistrates' Court

Bracknell Magistrates' Court

The following courts remain open:

East Berkshire Magistrates' Court, Slough

High Wycombe Magistrates' Court

Milton Keynes Magistrates' Court and Family Court

Oxford and Southern Oxfordshire Magistrates' Court

Reading Magistrates' Court and Family Court

More than half the magistrates' courts in England and Wales have closed as part of reforms by the Ministry of Justice and HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

They aim to "improve access to justice" by using technology, including having defendants entering pleas online and testifying remotely via video screen.

However, campaigners say this could hamper communication between defendants and their legal representatives.

In Thames Valley six courts have been sold - four to private buyers - raising a total of £4.7 million for the MoJ.

The Treasury has stipulated that £400 million of the MoJ's £1.2 billion digital modernisation programme must be raised through the sale of courthouses.

Across England and Wales, £223 million has been raised by closing 162 out of 323 magistrates' courts.

Two courts were sold for just £1 each.

Penelope Gibbs, director of legal charity Transform Justice, says the MoJ should assess the impact of video justice before spending money on expensive technology.

Ms Gibbs, a former magistrate, said: "The hidden story of virtual justice is of the harm the disconnect does to the relationship between lawyer and client.

"Defendants appear alone, isolated from the court, their lawyer, court staff and family, with their ability to communicate hampered by poor technology."

She added that the MoJ has "closed courts without having a replacement system in place", leaving witnesses and defendants stranded.

The MoJ maintains that the programme will make access to justice easier and improve efficiency, particularly by closing under-used court houses.

Justice minister Lucy Frazer said: "The closure of any court is not taken lightly - it only happens following full public consultation and when communities have reasonable access to alternative courts."