A VIRTUAL court – the first of its kind in the region – has held its first 20 cases.

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Magistrates sit at the remand court in Hatfield and defendants from Watford police station are beamed into the courtroom on a secure video link.

Virtual courts are designed to avoid delays for victims and witnesses and to ensure crimes are dealt with more quickly and effectively.

The same equipment is used for police officers providing evidence at court from the police station.

During the first 20 cases, offences including theft, assault, breach of a restraining order and driving while disqualified, have been dealt with.

Courts minister Jonathan Djanogly said: “The first virtual court in Hertfordshire demonstrates the Government’s commitment to working with police and the courts to ensure speedy and effective justice.

“Not only do they enable the quick resolution of cases, they also save time as defendants do not need to be transferred between prison and the court.”

Magistrate bench chairman Cathy Kerby said: “Hertfordshire magistrates welcome virtual courts as an innovative aid to streamlining the delivery of justice, and making case management in our courts swifter and more effective, to the benefit of all involved.

Hertfordshire Chief Constable Andy Bliss added: “This service has benefits to all agencies in Hertfordshire has been developed against a backdrop of positive partnership working.

“It is hoped that the advent of virtual courts will mean that justice is delivered more swiftly.”

1 comment

  • What this appears to demonstrate is the govt. attempting to pander to public opinion, irrespective of cost-effectiveness, as well as ignoring expert advice. Back in Dec. 2010, the Law Society reported that; ‘Virtual courts should not be rolled out nationally following a critical Ministry of Justice evaluation of a year-long pilot.’ This pilot involved 1 magistrates’ court & 15 police stations in London & one of each premises in Kent. Law Society president Linda Lee concluded that the system did not work & was financially flawed. The report indicated that the cost of the pilot alone far outweighed any intended advantages. While debatable, the timing of this current introduction is suspect, leading up to local elections. It will be interesting to see if it is quietly dismissed as a costly gimmick later in the year.

    Report this comment

    BuckStopsHere

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

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