News story

Crime news: contract signing launches installation of wi-fi in courts

Magistrates and Crown Court buildings now being kitted out with 'professional court user wi-fi'.

Wi-fi for providers and advocates to use in magistrates’ and Crown Court buildings is now being installed following a contract signing between MoJ and BT.

‘Professional court user wi-fi’ is the system being installed in 5 magistrates’ courts and 2 Crown Court buildings in early adopter areas during November 2014.

This follows pilots in Birmingham and Chelmsford magistrates’ court and Croydon Crown Court, which have been active since last year.

Full national roll-out across the court estate is due to be completed in England and Wales over the next 18 months.

The work is key to the government’s ambition to have criminal courts working digitally by July 2016. It is being delivered through the Criminal Justice System Efficiency Programme.

How does it work?

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) already sends information to the magistrates’ courts in digital format.

Using CJSM secure email practitioners will be able to access professional court user wi-fi and their own IT systems. This will improve collaboration across the justice system.

In the courtroom, digital working will reduce the need for documentation to be provided in hard copy formats for hearings and trials. This will save money and encourage more efficient working.

Introducing wi-fi is also especially valuable as more providers now have the option of submitting CRM14 eForms for online criminal legal aid applications. Wi-fi enhances the ability to complete and submit legal aid applications while in the court building.

When is the roll-out happening?

The 7 early adopter areas where wi-fi is being installed in late November are:

  1. West Midlands
  2. Croydon
  3. South Wales
  4. Northumbria
  5. Merseyside
  6. Essex
  7. Hampshire

The idea is to help identify and resolve problems before the full national roll-out starts in the new year.

There will be a further 8 stages when full roll-out begins in January 2015 with February 2016 signalling the end of the installation process.

In about a year from now more than 90% of courts in England and Wales should have Professional Court User wi-fi installed and in use.

Providers should make enquiries at their local court for more details.

Further information

CJSEfficiency@cps.gsi.gov.uk – for enquiries about the technology

CJS efficiency programme

Criminal legal aid processing: applications and digital systems

Rollout of digital in-court presentation technology