Communities across the country will be benefitting from swift and effective justice as thousands more court appearances will take place via video-link technology, Justice and Policing Minister Damian Green said today.
The announcement came as he said at least thirteen more areas will launch the technology across England and Wales during 2013.
Mr Green made the announcement as he visited Sutton Coldfield police station. West Midlands is one of the new areas using video-link technology to allow police officers to give evidence in court from the station.
In 2013 Avon and Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Sussex, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Dorset, Northamptonshire, Devon and Cornwall, Wiltshire, North Wales, Gwent, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire are some of the areas due to start using police witness to court video-link (live links).
Over the past year an estimated 75,000 video appearances took place during criminal cases resulting in savings in transport costs and a reduction in prisoner movements. As a result of live links an estimated 300 valuable police hours were saved. They dealt with a range of offences from burglary, theft, assault to first hearings for more serious offences such as murder.
Justice Minister Damian Green said:
‘We want the justice system to respond more effectively to the needs of victims, witnesses and professionals. Video technology is vital in this and I am extremely pleased that thousands more people up and down the country will be seeing more criminal justice areas and courts making use of the technology.
‘This is one part of our drive to create a swifter and more efficient justice system for all.’
In addition police forces are also expanding the use of video-link to support witnesses including vulnerable and intimidated witnesses who may have concerns about attending the same court as the defendant. Kent Police have recently installed two remote witness links away from the courts (Ashford and Bluewater shopping centre) and in South Wales a witness link is also operating from a local authority building to Cardiff Magistrates’ Court.
Notes to editors:
- Police witness to court video-links (live links) offer an effective alternative to police witnesses physically having to attend court buildings. The police witness is located in the police station (or other police site) while the Judge or Bench, jury, court officers, prosecutor, defence solicitor and defendant are at the court. Under existing practice a considerable amount of time and money is wasted by police officers travelling to and from court and waiting outside the courtroom to give evidence.
- Seven Criminal Justice Service (CJS) areas already operate Live Links. These are Essex, London, Kent, Cheshire, South Wales, Hertfordshire and West Midlands.
- In addition four CJS areas are using video-links for defendants’ first hearings (virtual courts). The initiative began in May 2009 in London (Camberwell Green) and Kent (Medway). This has now been extended to other locations in these areas as well as Cheshire and Hertfordshire. On 8 October 2012 a commencement order was issued which enables any Criminal Justice area to adopt video for first hearings if they choose to.
- The total estimated number of video-link appearances (75,000) in 2012 comprises of 8,181 witness links, 9,000 live links/virtual courts and 57,780 prison to court video-links.
- For more information please call the Ministry of Justice Press Office on 0203 334 3536.