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written by The Justice of the Peace on the 27th February 2018 at 12:53

The Ministry of Justice and its offspring Her Majesty`s Court and Tribunal Service are trying to convince legal practitioners, judges, and to a lesser extent magistrates and the public that the way forward in improving justice and courts` efficiency is not to have any courts and to "simplify" the basic concept of justice.  O.K..........That might be thought by some to be too Kafkaesque a description but certainly the disposal of hundreds of court buildings, the reduction and near elimination of legal aid in the lower court, the outsourcing of many court related functions,  the instigation of single J.P. jurisdiction for so called minor mass offending and perhaps most controversially of all the increasing use of video courts leads some way to a justification for the opinion.  When I was active video courts were being used in bail hearings.  Apart from prison officials not co-operating in a sensible fashion much of the time the actual operation was simple and certainly not unfair to the person on remand who of course always had a lawyer in court to safeguard the process.  But the idea of wholesale justice by video link is a wholly different ball game especially in crown court.  The old adage of the accused facing his/her  accuser is being disregarded in the face of what we are told is efficiency.  For "efficiency" read economy.  The MOJ is overloaded with a huge expense in so called consultants [£30 million] and a gargantuan press office  the numbers within being apparently unavailable to Mr Google although I seem to remember in a long forgotten post I finally discovered that there were well in excess of 60 people employed. Judging by the diarrhoea like output of the MOJ I have no reason to think they have reduced the spending of that part of the ministry. Economy seems, for the MOJ, to be in the eye of the beholder. However doing some simple research into the manner in which HMCTS records or doesn`t record aspects of its functions the following parliamentary question and answer provides an interesting summing up of this process of video courts.  At least one crown court judge has spoken out.  Would that more did.

Ministry of Justice

Courts: Video Conferencing

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what proportion of people who have appeared in court for their (a) first appearance, (b) remand hearing, (c) bail hearing, (d) case management and (e) sentencing have done so by video link in the last 12 months.

Answered by: Dominic Raab
Answered on: 08 January 2018

Information is not collected centrally on the proportion of court appearances by video link irrespective of the reason for the court appearance.

Information collected centrally in respect of hearings is published quarterly on:

Today the following has been published:-

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Between 1 June 2012 and 30 September 2017 HMCTS recorded 372,941 defendants appearing via video link from prison (181,688 in Crown Courts and 191,253 in Magistrates’ Courts) and 48,024 via video link from police stations into Magistrates Courts. The information on a breakdown of the demographics of the defendants involved can only be available at a disproportionate cost.

 Originally posted at

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