With its new Prisons and Courts Bill, the government sees digital technology becoming a core plank in the country’s entire justice system.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) says this needs to happen to make the courts quicker, more accessible and easier to use for all of society, delivered in a new “modern, user-friendly” environment in what it is framing “the biggest overhaul of prisons in a generation and the delivery of a world-class court system”.
Existing trial use of virtual hearings to become more common, says Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss, while more any more everyday court business, like bail applications, will be resolved via video or telephone conferencing, “allowing justice to be delivered more swiftly”.
We’re being promised modern court facilities and better IT that will help manage cases more efficiently, making it easier for the judiciary to deploy judges more flexibly, allowing judges to gain experience of different types of cases and more flexibility when it comes to handling case backlogs.
Meanwhile on the offender side, those charged with some criminal offences, such as failure to produce a ticket for travel on a train, will also soon be able to plead guilty online, accept their conviction, and accept then pay their penalty in the same transaction.
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Digital services will also be set up to help businesses owed money to get it back hat way, too, promises MoJ, while court listings and case results will be published online.
“Britain has the best justice system in the world, but it should also be the most modern,” commented Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald.
“We want courts that are efficient and fit-for-purpose, with facilities across the entire estate that are modern, user-friendly, and work in favour of our hard-working and dedicated judges and magistrates.
“The Prisons and Courts Bill underpins this vision – building on the good progress we have already made in improving the experience of all users and cementing our reputation for global legal excellence so we can go on attracting business to the United Kingdom.”
Follow the Bill’s progress on the Parliamentary website.