The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No Virtues In Virtual Courts

I hope that the nice people at Crime Line (link in sidebar) will forgive me for lifting the following:-

The virtual courts pilot has shown that the system is expensive and inefficient and should not be rolled out, says the Law Society after the Ministry of Justice's own report on the pilot showed it was more expensive than traditional courts.

Virtual courts, whereby the defendant remains physically at the police station instead of in court and instead appears via video link to the court room, was supposed to save money and prove more efficient, but the MoJ's review of the pilot says "the economic model reinforces the message that a roll-out based on the pilot’s performance and parameters is likely to cost more money than it saves."

The report also found that, rather than reducing the number of hearings per case, there were actually more hearings in the virtual courts pilot than traditional court hearings.

Law Society President Linda Lee says: "The findings in this report show that, in their present form, virtual courts will not achieve efficiencies. Any savings made were exceeded by the additional costs generated by the process, including high set-up and running costs for the virtual court technology and higher legal aid costs.

“Virtual court activity also placed additional burdens on police custody officers, case file handlers and, most significantly, Designated Detention Officers (DDOs), who were charged with overseeing Virtual Court hearings in custody suites.

“It would be wholly irresponsible for the Government to roll out an expensive and inefficient process when justice and the rule of law is at stake.

"The Society has, for some time, been opposing the virtual courts idea for a range of reasons, including the impact it would have on genuine access to justice. The report on the pilot confirms those concerns."

Read the report here:


I hope that the financial arguments do for the scheme, because nobody really gives a toss about the potential for injustice.

I spoke to a senior HMCS person yesterday, who nodded sagely and said "Yes - but they haven't pulled the scheme have they?"