MoJ’s ‘major IT network issues’ disrupt courts across UK

Written by Sam Trendall on 23 January 2019 in News

After a week of disruption, latest update reveals one in four courts staff still cannot access systems

The Royal Courts of Justice in London  Credit: PA

A week of “major IT network issues” suffered by the Ministry of Justice has brought disruption to the UK courts system – with one in four staff still shut out of IT systems.

The department, in unison with a number of its agencies, issued an update yesterday saying that, after days of staff being unable to connect to networks and systems, “access has been restored to a large number of MoJ sites today”.

“The main suppliers of the affected technology, including Atos and Microsoft, are working hard to restore access for the remaining sites and users,” the statement added. “Please be assured that we are doing everything possible to resolve the situation and we will continue to do so until full service is restored.”

As of Tuesday, internet and email access had been restored throughout the justice system – including on mobile devices, the MoJ said. Contingency plans were being rolled out to “mitigate impacts” on the National Probation Service, while prisons have been unaffected, according to the department. 

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Web services launched as part of the ongoing digitisation of the courts system – such as online divorce and probate services – have also continued to operate as normal. 

But courts themselves have been badly hit and, although access has been restored for many, one in four court staff are still shut out of IT systems, according to yesterday’s update.

“Hearings are continuing to progress in our courts – though we appreciate the extra burden placed on court users still without network access,” it said.

On Twitter, Susan Acland-Hood, chief executive of HM Courts and Tribunals Service, added: “I’m hugely grateful to HMCTS staff, professional users and others who’ve worked so hard to keep courts working through the problems – very sorry it was necessary.”

The MoJ is working with Atos and Microsoft to try and “identify the root cause of the issues”. But the department said that “it is not the result of a cyberattack and there has been no loss of data”.

The £1bn programme of digital reforms is also not the cause of the problems, according to the statement, nor have the issues been caused by the £280m Common Platform project to deliver a new and unified case-management system across HMCTS and the Crown Prosecution Service.

The MoJ said: “Teams will continue to work around the clock to resolve the remaining issues. We will continue to update… [on] progress made.”

In a “separate and unrelated issue last week”, one in eight users of the CJSM mail system for the criminal justice system suffered problems accessing their account.

The MoJ said: “All users can currently send and receive secure emails and we have restored the email history of all inboxes affected.”

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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