Courts To Operate “Completely Digitally”

Apr 17, 2014

Criminal Justice Minister Damian Green has unveiled a “digital courtroom,” claiming that criminal court cases will be handled digitally from the moment a crime is committed to the courtroom conclusion.

In future, every Magistrate’s court in England and Wales could take advantage of the new technology available, such as an increased use of video links, said Green.

He also added that written evidence and legal submissions may be stored securely centrally to be accessed by legal teams on digital devices using wi-fi connections.

Police will also be able to collect evidence at crime scenes using mobile phones and tablets, beginning to build case files on the beat.

“I want to see a criminal justice system where information is captured once by a Police officer responding to a crime and then flows through the system to the court stage without duplication or reworking,” claimed Green.

“Many forces are already using digital technology like body-worn video, which can be used to collect compelling evidence at the scene of crime,” he added.

The Minister was speaking at the South London Bromley Magistrate’s Court - a location chosen because it will be among the first in the UK to be equipped with the new facilities.

Criminal Justice System Gets Modern Business Model

These changes were announced last week as part of the new Criminal Justice System Digital Business Model, aimed to help victims and witnesses by ensuring cases progress as quickly as possible.

The new model will bring the agencies that make up the criminal justice system together, including the Police, HM Courts and Tribunal Service and Crown Prosecution Service.

It plans for Police officers to be equipped with the tools they need such as the ability to capture evidence at a scene and electronically capture statements, video links for pre-trial hearings to cut transport costs and in-court presentation equipment.

A set of principles for how the involved agencies will jointly undertake digital reform and transformation in the future has also been developed.

The changes are also intended to improve the day-to-day work of the Police, prosecutors, defence advocators and court staff.

New Funding Available

Courts across England and Wales will be upgraded using new funding of £75m a year, in addition to £44m already provided for the provision of new IT programmes.

It is hoped the funding will see criminal courts that can operate entirely digitally by 2016, as the Ministry of Justice attempts to meet the government’s Digital By Default policy.




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