Corgarashu - stock.adobe.com
HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is deploying a new digital system for courts in the South East of England.
The system, called Common Platform, aims to provide a single, streamlined digital resource for defence professionals.
It replaces five existing applications with a single one, and allows all parties to get digital access to information about a case, such as charges, evidence and results, reducing the need for paper documents, copying information from one system to another, as well as manual document handling.
Commenting on the roll-out, Kevin Sadler, acting CEO of HMCTS, said this is a “great step forward in the rollout of this unique and innovative system”.
“Each court which goes live with Common Platform brings us essential knowledge and feedback for us to feed into its further development,” he said.
“This means we can be absolutely confident this service will ultimately meet user needs and deliver significant benefits for us and for all our criminal justice partners.”
The digital case management system has already gone live in two early adopter sites, Guilford Magistrates’ and Crown Courts and Staines Magistrates’ Court.
Read more about IT in the justice system
- A Commons Select Committee report has voiced a number of concerns about the ongoing transformation efforts led by the Ministry of Justice and called for actions such as maintenance of non-digital services.
- Significant IT issues at HM Courts and Tribunal Service have caused chaos across the UK’s courts as users have been unable to connect to the network and use IT systems that require access to it.
- An independent evaluation of HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) video hearings has found that judges and users have been adapting well to the service – and that cases conducted remotely are feasible.
Later this month, the system will be rolled out to courts in North Staffordshire, Cannock, Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford, Warrington and Chester.
Defence professionals can register for an account on the platform through their firm or chamber, and ahead of the roll-out HMCTS wrote them to encourage registration to ensure they are prepared to join hearings that use the platform. Initially, it will be a small number of cases on the platform, but this will increase over time. The performance of the platform will also be “closely monitored” to ensure everything works, before increasing capacity.
Access to information can also be securely controlled to make sure a person only sees information that’s appropriate to them.
The platform has been used to conduct remote criminal hearings during the coronavirus pandemic, in move that aimed to give judges and magistrates “more options for avoiding adjournments and keeping business moving through the courts to help reduce delays in the administration of justice and alleviate the impact on families, victims, witnesses and defendants”, according to HMCTS.