This year marks the 650th anniversary of the appointment of the first Justices of the Peace in England and Wales.
But many magistrates courts are now facing closure as part of the cost saving measures announced by the Ministry of Justice.
So how valuable is the role played by local magistrates and what impact will the court closures have?
Jenny Cuffe has been following developments in Salford where the Magistrates court is one of those on the hit-list.
The ageing listed building which houses the court dates back to the early nineteenth century - but the court itself has been involved in current initiatives including special domestic violence courts and a pilot scheme in restorative justice.
As local politicians battle to stave off the closure, Jenny Cuffe follows day-to-day business - talking to magistrates, lawyers and their clients, and assessing the claims of those who say justice needs to be delivered locally.
Producer: Jenny Cuffe Editor: David Ross.
Jenny Cuffe examines the role of local magistrates and the proposed court closures.