Courts service has also equipped its workforce with 11,000 laptops
Credit: Steve Parsons/PA
Almost 500 courtrooms across England and Wales have been fitted with videoconferencing equipment since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Shortly after the start of the first national lockdown 11 months ago, HM Courts and Tribunals announced that about one in three of the 390 courts whose operations it oversees would be hosting cases via audio or video technology. In addition to these 124 facilities, 157 courts continued to host essential face-to-face hearings, while 109 were temporarily shut.
Within six months of the implementation of this hybrid system, one in four criminal cases being heard in courts was taking place via videoconferencing technology. A further 21% were chiefly using audio platforms.
This has been made possible by the addition of video tech to 482 courtrooms around the country, according to courts minister Chris Philp. He added that HMCTS has provided new devices for more than two thirds of its workforce of approximately 17,000 people.
“HMCTS has increased IT equipment and connectivity to support increased remote working,” the minister said. “It has deployed 11,000 laptops since the beginning of the pandemic to assist with flexible working arrangements and has, so far, installed new video hardware to 482 court rooms. This is to increase the number of courtrooms capable of holding video-enabled hearings by installing video technology intended for use with strategic video platforms.”
Philp was answering a written parliamentary question from Labour MP for Luton South Rachel Hopkins.