Kirkwall Sheriff Court Open Day

Court House Open Day

Kirkwall Sheriff Court

Photograph by Nick Morrison

Saturday saw the Court house open its doors to the public.

Sadly I was telt firmly by the Clerk of the Court that I was not allowed to take any pictures inside.

There were 2 mock trials on the day, morning and afternoon.

As we public entered, some of us had a small “j” on our tickets. That meant we were selected for Jury Service.

Most, if not all the Officers were there and they each explained their role.

I was impressed with the efforts the Court take to safeguard children and not to expose them to stressful conditions any more than absolutely necessary.

We were given a thumbnail sketch of early Justice in Orkney. Very early Justice was conducted in the Earls Palace. From 1615 to the late 1800’s it was in the Cathedral. The new Court House was started in 1872 and opened in 1879 for the princely sum of around £3900!

The trial was an alleged assault which took place in a local bar. All of the Court officers exchanged roles. The Clerk of the Court for example became a wonderful sulky stroppy witness. The trial was duly conducted in abbreviated form. Apparently cases of this nature can take 3 days not under an hour! The assailant was found guilty on this afternoon . A different verdict being returned in the morning.

The Court house is an important asset for Orcadians, for example its staff can process a will in a week or less, whereas if it goes to Edinburgh it could take two months.

Another aspect is access to swift Justice. If a suspect is arrested a Sheriff depute can be found within 24hrs or less so the suspect will either be released with or without bail or committed for trial.

Public Defense Solicitors are also available 24/7.


By kind permission of the Police Sgt and the kids Mum, I was able to get a pic of the custody Van!

Kids at the Sheriff court

Photograph by Nick Morrison

Reporter Nick Morrison

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