More than 2,000 arrest warrants were issued last year for people who failed to turn up to court in Thames Valley, figures reveal.

But legal charity Transform Justice says the warrants, which can lead to prison time, are a waste of police time and an unfair punishment.

Ministry of Justice figures show 2,291 failure to appear warrants were issued in magistrates courts in the Thames Valley Local Criminal Justice Board area in 2019 – though this was a small drop on 2018.

Penelope Gibbs, director of Transform Justice, said she wasn’t convinced the “punishment fits the crime”.

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She told Radar: “Someone who doesn’t turn up for their court hearing may not have got the letter, or may have mental health problems or lead a chaotic life.”

“They should of course turn up for their court hearing, but maybe the response to failure to appear may need to be different.”

With 69,000 court hearings in Thames Valley last year, it means that failure to appear warrants were needed for around 3.3% – slightly below the 3.6% average across England and Wales.

More than 60% of the warrants were issued for offences such as theft and burglary, which are either-way offences meaning they could be heard in either magistrates courts or Crown courts.

Ms Gibbs says failure to appear warrants were a poor use of police resources, particularly for people who “seldom pose an immediate threat to public safety”.

She suggested that instead new approaches are used like sending text messages to remind them of trial dates and calling them.