Written by admin
May 24th, 2019

When, in the first decade of the 21st century, the Ministry of Justice decided to aim for a digital rather than a paper based justice system, there was a sense that they were moving towards a bright new future at pace.

The earliest signs of utilising technology to assist the court process were of course the early CCTV links either used for the benefit of vulnerable witnesses or to save prisoners having to make long and arduous journeys to court from prison.

Bearing in mind the frequently experienced practical problems that both of these systems have manifested over the years, the Ministry of Justice might well have thought it appropriate to proceed with caution.

In fact, a decision was taken that the Crown Prosecution Service would soon be serving almost all its evidence digitally in both the Crown Court and the Magistrates’ Court.

Inevitably, some teething problems were anticipated and everybody approached the scheme with an open if somewhat quizzical mind.

Four or so years down the line, teething problems have become entrenched rather than historic. The courts own digital systems regularly fail, the Digital Case System is often unavailable to judges and advocates alike. At the present time there is no way of allowing jurors access to video material served on the egress system, unless they come back into court to watch it. This means of course that jurors are not able to start and stop videos at will and they are not able to sit around a table and discuss exactly what they are seeing. The Click Share facility fails with monotonous regularity and so the problems pile up.

It is not just of course that there is a failure in software or server delivery, the truth of the matter is that the equipment provided is often incompatible and frequently broken.

Rather than the new digital world being one in which vast savings could be realised by all, it has simply been a world in which penny-pinching and shortcuts have been laid bare for all to see. There can be no doubt that law and technology should be capable of walking into the future hand in hand, but at the moment they barely seem to be walking in the same direction let alone along the same stretch of road.

Categories: Criminal Law

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