Press release

Digital 'Make A Plea' system means people can choose where and when they plead

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A new digital service will allow people charged with minor motoring offences to make a plea online at a time and place of their choosing.

The service is the latest stage of on-going government work to modernise the courts, and other public services, to provide simpler access for users and better value for taxpayers.

The new ‘Make a Plea’ service will begin to be rolled out across England and Wales from March, following a successful pilot in Greater Manchester.

People charged with summary motoring offences, like speeding, failing to identify the driver or using a vehicle without insurance, will be able to use the clear, concise, secure and easy to use website to respond to charges against them.

Shailesh Vara, Courts Minister said:

Digital technology gives us an opportunity to make the justice system simpler, clearer and faster - and part of this means reducing or removing the unnecessary movement of paper, and people, around the system.

The new ‘Make a Plea’ service is reducing case time and costs for the courts and the police, ensuring that they can focus on the most complex cases. It makes it easy, simple and quick for people to access justice.

Wider modernisation of the courts has included investing £160 million in digital technology for courtrooms including video links, wifi and improved IT systems to end the system’s reliance on paper.

Some of the highest volume work that the police, prosecution and courts deal with is low level traffic offences. The latest annual statistics show proceedings were taken for half a million summary motoring offences.

These cases take up large amounts of court time despite, in many cases, the offender either pleading guilty by post or their case being proven in absence when they do not attend or contact the court.

The new digital system means defendants will be able to make their plea from any suitable device 24 hours a day through the secure website.

The service is offered as an alternative to a postal plea or attending court and has been developed with court users to meet their needs.

Identifying and concluding guilty plea cases earlier saves work and money for the criminal justice system and taxpayers. ‘Make a Plea’ also saves time and simplifies the process for defendants as well as making sure they receive maximum credit from the court for pleading guilty at the earliest possible point.

During the pilot in Manchester nearly a third of people used the digital service to make a plea.

Making better use of digital technology is a key government objective and ‘Make A Plea’ is the latest of a number of simple and effective solutions that are being developed across the Justice system. Consideration is now being given to whether the service could be used for other low level crimes.

Wider modernisation of the courts has included investing £160 million in digital technology for courtrooms including video links, wifi and improved IT systems to end the system’s reliance on paper.