New court videolink now in use
Following successful testing at the start of this week, the new videolink system between the Magistrates Court and HM Prison was used for the first time on Wednesday. The videolink technology allows for pictures and sound to be simultaneously sent between the court and the prison. Initially, it will be used for routine hearings, for example the weekly reviews of prisoners held on remand.
Defendants use a room at the prison that has been specially set up for this purpose. The videolink system will allow a number of Magistrates court hearings to take place without the need to physically bring defendants to court from the prison. This will save a substantial amount of court, prison officer and police time. At the first videolink hearing this Wednesday the system immediately proved its worth, as seven remand hearings were held within only 15 minutes. Previously, this would have taken nearly a whole morning with defendants first being transported from prison to the court, then put in holding cells while waiting for their hearing and then being taken back to prison. All the while, a number of prison and police officers would have had to be on hand to manage this process and provide security.
Additional videolink services are planned for the courts, with additional equipment due to be installed in the Magistrates and Supreme Courts in the coming months. This will open up the possibilities of receiving videolink evidence in court from vulnerable victims and witnesses, as well as giving the Supreme Court more options in handling of cases involving parties from overseas.
Speaking about the system, the Minister for Justice, Gilbert Licudi QC, said,
The success of the videolink during its first use this week is an excellent example of how the right investment in technology can immediately bring benefits to our public services. A significant amount of prison officer and police officer time will now be saved every week, taking considerable pressure off the staffing in these areas. As a Government, we will be continuing with our commitment to invest in technology such as new computer systems for the RGP and the courts, in order to improve our services further.
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