Empty shops in shopping centres could now have a very different purpose, being set up as courts.

In an attempt by the Magistrates’ Association to step up the justice system, courts could be set up in empty units with the public able to watch proceedings through a glass panel.

The proposal has been put forward to cut the time that those involved in the trials need to take travelling to the hearing by holding them in centres closer to people’s homes or work.

Around 100 magistrates’ courts face closure as part of a £37m cost-cutting drive.