The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) pilot virtual solution for handling first hearings has recently gone live in London and Kent. The pilot is intended to deliver improvements in the business process and associated costs for the police, prosecutors and magistrates.
Capgemini has helped OCJR and our partners make Virtual Courts a reality. Their technical expertise across a range of disciplines has helped to shape the technical design of the project and their programme support has contributed to its effective delivery. Edward Gretton, Head of Project Delivery Unit, OCJR
The Office for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR) was seeking a technology solution to underpin a significant business change – the Virtual Courts program. The delivery of this unique multi agency project was a new challenge for OCJR, as each agency brought its own set of business objectives, governance and working relationships. The solution necessitated alignment at all levels to be successful. Additionally, with the current economic climate, OCJR was seeking a solution which fit within the restricted budget and maximised return on investment, as well as aggressive delivery timescales to meet political agendas.
In collaboration with OCJR, Capgemini undertook the design, development and deployment of the prototype and technical management of the Virtual Courts pilot. Virtual Courts incorporates the use of document sharing for the sharing of case file papers between agencies. Video conferencing enables a virtual first hearing between the magistrates court and the police station where the defendant has been charged. These give the potential to reduce the time from charge to first hearing from days to just a few hours in most instances. Only secure links are used to join up the agencies involved.
A prototype was initially run in the summer of 2007 for three months with the aim of evaluating the technology to support the business process. Based on the success of the prototype the current pilot project was initiated covering sites at Her Majesty’s Courts Service, Crown Prosecution Service, National Probation Service and two police forces (Metropolitan Police Service and Kent Constabulary) with the aim of exercising the business process with a larger volume of cases. Other police forces have shown significant interest in the project. The pilot is scheduled to run for 12 months.
It is anticipated that the pilot will demonstrate demonstrable efficiency savings and have a positive impact on confidence levels within the Criminal Justice System and wider public. The pilot though in its early stages is already demonstrating the potential to speed up the delivery of justice.