The Midlands is the region hardest hit by the closure of 166 courts in England and Wales over the past five years, while London has been least affected, the Gazette has learned through a Freedom of Information response.

Since the beginning of 2009, just 14 courts have closed in Greater London, an area which serves a population of around 8.2 million, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In contrast 42 courts in the Midlands, covering a population of 10.1 million, were closed during the same period.

According to the response, 19 courts closed in Wales; 28 shut in the south-west; 28 in the south-east; 18 in the north-east; and 17 in the north-west.

In December 2010, 142 courts were earmarked for closure under HM Courts & Tribunals Service’s (HMCTS) estate reform programme. Of those Rhyl County Court is the only remaining building open – it will close on 1 April.

In addition, HMCTS has spent £23.5m on 10 court building schemes which have been cancelled or deferred as a result of spending cuts.