Magistrates and Crown Courts are now being equipped with ‘professional court user wi-fi’ for providers and advocates to use in Court buildings following a contract between the Ministry of Justice and BT.
‘Professional court user wi-fi’ is the system being installed in 5 Magistrates’ courts and 2 Crown Court buildings during November 2014 following pilots in Birmingham and Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court and Croydon Crown Court. A national roll-out is due to be completed in England and Wales over the next 18 months.
Criminal Justice System Efficiency Programme
The work is part of the government’s ambition to have criminal courts working digitally by July 2016. It is being delivered through the Criminal Justice System Efficiency Programme. The Crown Prosecution Service already sends information to the Magistrates’ courts in digital format and using secure email practitioners will be able to access professional court user wi-fi and their own IT systems with the aim to improve efficiency across the justice system.
It is hoped that digital working will reduce the need for documentation to be provided in hard copy formats for hearings and trials, saving money and encouraging more efficient working.
The 7 early adopter areas where wi-fi is being installed in late November are: West Midlands, Croydon, South Wales, Northumbria, Merseyside, Essex and Hampshire.The idea is to help identify and resolve problems before the full national roll-out starts in the new year. In about twelve months from now more than 90% of courts in England and Wales should have Professional Court User Wi-Fi installed and in use.