British courts using video conferencing to reach quick decisions

Wednesday, July 7 2010

Officials in Sutton, England, are seeing impressive results as they complete a pilot program in which local magistrates can render a decision without ever meeting a criminal in person, the Sutton Guardian reports.

The system uses a secure video conferencing connection to link the police station and the courthouse. According to the paper, the magistrate will oversee the process from the courthouse, while the defendant and attorneys for both sides use specially adapted rooms to conduct the trial.

Through the use of the "virtual court," officials told the paper it's possible for a criminal to be arrested, convicted and sentenced within a two-hour window. Adoption of the system nationwide could save millions of dollars.

"Virtual courts bring swift justice, and in doing so, have the potential to transform how the justice system deals with crimes," Bridget Prentice, minister for the courts, told the paper.

Other places are using video conferencing technology to impact different aspects of the criminal process. The Jacksonville Daily Record says that the recent addition of video conferencing abilities to the Clay County jail will save roughly $50,000 per year - without even counting the time and money saved by various attorneys.ADNFCR-3295-ID-19879328-ADNFCR