Digital justice takes another step with ‘professional court user’ wi-fi

Professional court user wi-fi is to be rolled out across magistrates’ and Crown Court buildings to provide fit-for-purpose connectivity for advocates

Nov 26, 2014
By Paul Jacques
Picture: MPS

Professional court user wi-fi is to be rolled out across magistrates’ and Crown Court buildings to provide fit-for-purpose connectivity for advocates.

Supplied by BT, the new system has initially been installed this month in five magistrates’ courts and two Crown Court buildings in early adopter areas.

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

Full national rollout 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.

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

Using the Criminal Justice Secure eMail (CJSM) service, 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.

The seven early adopter areas are the West Midlands, Croydon, South Wales, Northumbria, Merseyside, Essex and Hampshire

The idea is to help identify and resolve problems before the full national rollout begins next year.

There will be a further eight stages when full rollout begins in January 2015, with February 2016 signalling the end of the installation process.

It is anticipated that a year from now more than 90 per cent of courts in England and Wales should have professional court user wi-fi installed and in use.

BT has also been awarded a multi-million pound, seven-year contract to operate the Wales-wide public sector broadband network.

The Public Sector Broadband Aggregation (PSBA) network enables public service organisations ranging from the emergency services and schools to hospitals and local government offices to achieve better value for money in their use of broadband communications.

There are currently more than 80 public service organisations using the PSBA wide area network supporting 4,000 public sites across Wales.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: “The PSBA contract benefits public service organisations throughout Wales by making significant savings while continuing to provide people with valuable and effective services. The network also provides increasing opportunities for Welsh public services to work together to improve service delivery.”

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James said the PSBA was “a unique service providing a robust infrastructure for the public sector”.

Ian Dalton, president, Global Government and Health, BT Global Services, said “having a great infrastructure can really improve efficiency and the delivery of better joined-up services”.

“We are delighted to be bringing new, groundbreaking communications services to Wales. The exciting evolution of the PSBA will allow us to support the changing needs of citizens and the public sector across Wales,” he added.

The PSBA is a managed network service that connects nearly all areas of the public sector in Wales to a private network – essentially a secure internet for public sector use only.

All local authorities use the PSBA, 20 of the 22 using it for all networking needs together with all police forces, fire and rescue services, higher and further education, GPs and hospitals, Natural Resources Wales, Welsh government and a number of non-sector organisations

The PSBA network service, which was launched in 2007, is the only one of its kind in the UK and supports public bodies to wor

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