Thousands more people will benefit from flexible courts, Criminal Justice
Minister Damian Green said today as he unveiled a list of dozens of new pilot
Mr Green made the announcement as he visited Cardiff and the Vale of
Glamorgan Magistrates' court, which has been operating extended hours since
April and also uses video-links so suspects can appear in court from the prison
where they are being held.
Earlier this year the Ministry of Justice
began to work with local areas across England and Wales to test whether a more
flexible criminal justice system would be better able to respond to the needs of
the public, and particularly victims and witnesses. This included courts sitting
outside traditional hours during the week, sitting at weekends and increasing
the use of video-link technology. The pilots have been agreed locally by
criminal justice system partners to ensure that they meet local demands. In
total 48 pilots are due to go live in the coming weeks.
Justice Minister Damian Green said:
'We want the justice system to respond further and more effectively to the
needs of victims, witnesses and the local community. I am extremely pleased
that thousands more people up and down the country will benefit from flexible
courts in their communities.
'This is one part of our drive to create a
swifter, surer and more flexible justice system for all.'
In July this year the Government launched the 'Swift and Sure Justice' White
Paper which set out plans to modernise criminal justice services, speed up court
cases, improve transparency so the public can understand how the system works
and engage local communities in dealing with low-level offending. This follows
the successful response of the CJS to the disturbances of summer 2011.
- There will be 48 Flexible CJS pilots across England and Wales.
- There are five Flexible CJS
models being piloted:
- Extending the operating hours of the magistrates’ courts during the week to
hear cases earlier and later in the day;
- Maximising the use of Prison to Court Video links (PCVL) which removes the
need for a defendant to be transported from prison to court for specific
hearings as the hearing can be conducted via video link;
- Weekend working to enable courts to open on Saturday and Sundays. There are
approximately 100 courts already sit on Saturdays to hear overnight remand cases
across England and Wales;
- Extending the operating hours of the Virtual Court to enable preliminary
hearings in the magistrates’ court held over video link where the defendant is
located at the police station beyond traditional working hours;
- Introducing a Regional Virtual Court to enable preliminary hearings in the
magistrates’ court held over video link to be heard by one court from across a
wider area than the current Virtual Courts areas.
- The Government launched the Swift and Sure Justice White Paper in July - it sets out a range of options to
improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice system.
- For further information please call the Ministry of Justice press office on
020333 4 3536. Follow us on Twitter @MOJpress