Challenge

Delivering video enabled justice at scale

Video Enabled Justice (VEJ) has been a policy proposal in the UK justice system for several years. But to date there have been major challenges around delivering VEJ at an industrial scale large enough to realise the full potential benefits.

A key barrier being the absence of technology to create a user-friendly environment for key users including custody officers and legal bench managers. A further barrier was a lack of an agreed operating model between the key agencies, namely courts, police and prosecutors together with other critical actors such as defence and probation.

"Currently, officers devote an average of about 5.5 hours to each court case, but they may only actually be giving evidence for half an hour of that time. On top of that, they often have to travel to and from the court, with all the time and bureaucracy that involves, however the focus has now widened towards expanding VEJ to include other parties, from the Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS) to the defence to prisoners on remand," said Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne.

"The focus has now widened towards expanding VEJ to include other parties, from the Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS) to the defence to prisoners on remand."

– KATY BOURNE, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

Strategy and solution

Start small then scale up

Accenture began by engaging with all the participants; the Police Crime Commissioner for Sussex, the courts, the Probation Service, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the police forces involved to establish an agreement to work together collaboratively. And with this commitment in place, a strategic decision was taken to start the project small and scale it up over time.

The solution is currently in its initial roll-out phase and is now operational in Medway Magistrates Court, Kent, where the first hearings are now being linked up via video. Over the coming year additional releases of the tool will be rolled out to handle scheduling and on-the-day video links, allowing other participants to take part along with prosecutors and defence lawyers. The solution will then be embedded into the summary courts of the South East region, opening the way to wider uptake by other courts and regions across the country.

"I’ve seen great improvements in the way that hearings are being held and the consistency of those hearings. We’re starting to see some real benefits in terms of getting cases dealt with promptly and effectively, 2,276 hearings have been heard over the last 8 months, about 80 percent of them during the week."

– TONY BLAKER, Deputy Chief Constable – Kent Police and VEJ Senior Responsible Officer

Transformation

Real benefits starting to emerge

The criminal justice system is actually made up of several different systems working together. At its root, the VEJ programme supported and delivered by Accenture is about making all these components—and the data that flows through them—collaborate and interact more efficiently and effectively, from end to end. Which means lower cost, higher adaptability and speed, and a better experience for everybody involved.

The results are already beginning to flow. Stakeholders are already pointing to better, faster handing of cases, a more responsive approach to the needs and experience of citizens, and further benefits around the efficiency and speed of related processes such as case file management.

"We started by just looking at police officer time. But eventually we would like to extend this and make it possible for the CPS to prosecute via the video link as well. Defence solicitors could also give defence support via video link and ultimately a prisoner on remand could do so too. So while using video link isn't new, this is about taking that technology and making it even more efficient than it already is—making the entire system a lot more efficient," said Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne.

"So while using video link isn't new, this is about taking that technology and making it even more efficient than it already is—making the entire system a lot more efficient."

– KATY BOURNE, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

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