updated on 04 May 2018
A £1 billion court modernisation programme aims to save £250 million a year and cut thousands of jobs, consultation papers sent to judges and magistrates have revealed.
The consultation, reported by Legal Futures, sets out plans to further reduce the number of courts in operation following a previous cut from 460 to 350 a few years ago. The papers also show that 6,500 court staff out of a workforce of 16,500 stand to lose their jobs by 2022 – we previously reported that the business figure appointed to oversee the changes was once dubbed the ‘prince of darkness’ for his role in sackings.
Much of the £1 billion reforms will focus on online solutions such as the ‘common platform’ project, which will allow online pleas for criminal offences, as well as other digital systems. Tribunals, civil, family and criminal courts will all make significant savings under the changes.
Groups including MPs on the justice select committee have previously expressed concern at the government’s preference for virtual and online justice over the traditional court model. One of the main concerns is that not enough is being done to support people who are unable to access online tools or who are not computer-literate.