COVID-19 Update: The COVID-19 crisis presents an unprecedented challenge to the provision of core public services that are traditionally delivered face to face, including healthcare, education and justice. At the same time, advances in communications and information technology made during the last 40 years allow us the opportunity to continue to provide these services effectively, through the use of hardware and software communication platforms that are now readily available. Within this context, it should be possible to continue substantially the full operation of the family justice system, albeit on a remote access basis, notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reality is that for foreseeable future remote hearings will become the norm and they must become the norm immediately. Within this context, and having regard to a variety of matters, whilst through an urgent Protocol it is possible to stipulate now and nationally the procedure
for remote hearings, it is simply not going to be possible pending the arrival of the MOJ/HMCTS Cloud Video Platform to reach common agreement as to the single communications platform that should be used in all cases. Further, even after the introduction of the CVP, the need for a high number of remote hearings will be so pressing that the multiple redundancies provided by maintaining multiple ‘off the shelf’ options through which to conduct remote hearings will be so valuable as to require maintaining for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the circumstances, pending the arrival of CVP, judges, lawyers and litigants should be able to choose from a suite or ‘Smorgasbord’ of platforms (most likely BT MeetMe, Skype for Business, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Lifesize) depending on the circumstances of the court, the parties and of the particular case. Further, subsequent to the arrival of CVP, judges, lawyers and litigants should continue to be able to choose from the ‘Smorgasbord’ of platforms as a contingency and a means of maintaining multiple failsafe redundancies in what will be a vital public service. Within this context, the Remote Family Court is best realised at the current time as a collection of platforms being used to achieve the single aim of safe access to justice and the maintenance of the rule of law. Flexibility, the use of local resources and expertise and not getting hung up on a single option must be the key operational principles.
Improving the speed and efficiency of the UK justice system has been a key objective for the government for the past 5 years, with the task of finding 15% savings on everyday expenditure and 50% reduction of back-office functions by 2020. However, by 2015, the length of court cases had in fact increased by 7% over the previous 4 years, showing a worrying trend that has continued to increase.
Recent research by the Ministry of Justice, Government think-tanks, and Accenture, looking at digital Justice and how speed and efficiency could be improved, has dubbed the use of Video Communication technology a key part of the answer to solving this challenge. Virtual courts for pre-trial and case-management could make major savings in police time, transport costs and custody resources, amongst much more.
VideoCentric’s video enabled justice solutions enable organisations to improve access to justice and provide the best possible experience for victims and witnesses to give evidence. Solutions such as Video Conferencing and collaboration technology in the court rooms, at police stations and at custody centres deliver flexibility and access to court time, and assist with the ongoing transformation of digital policing.
- Live links between police witnesses and courts
- Bail applications and virtual court apperances
- Prison to court video links
- Vital reforms in digital policing
- Video enabled Chambers, barristers and Queens’ Counsel
- Links between magistrates’ courts and crown courts
To discuss options for virtual courts, video enabled justice solutions and video communications for police forces, courts, prisons and defence and witness teams, get in touch with our teams today. Find out more about what secure communications solutions are available from the world’s leading video communications manufacturers, including Cisco and Polycom, ISDN gateway and firewall management services, on-premise and cloud based services, recording and streaming solutions, and remote collaboration technologies.
We are on a variety of government frameworks, including: the CCS NS2 (Crown Commercial Service, RM3808 Network Services 2) and G-Cloud. Get in touch to find out if we are on the right framework for you.