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This report presents findings from the virtual court pilot evaluation, looking at the cost effectiveness, speed and justice outcomes of the pilot sites compared to the traditional courts.
The virtual court was piloted between May 2009 and May 2010 in one magistrates’ court and fifteen police stations in London and one magistrates’ court and a police station in North Kent. In the virtual court qualifying defendants did not have to physically attend the first hearing in the magistrates’ court, but remained in the police station with a video link to the court.
The pilot assessment considered the cost effectiveness, speed and justice outcomes of the pilot sites compared to the traditional courts over the period from January to April 2010, as well as the implications of rolling out the scheme nationally.
The findings indicate that the pilot was successful in reducing the average time from charge to first hearing, failure to appear rates and prisoner transportation and police cell costs. However, these savings were exceeded by costs of the pilot, particularly those associated with the technology used.