Accused '˜could use smartphones to enter court pleas'

People accused of crimes could use smartphones to submit an online plea and keep track of developments in their case, a new report has suggested.

Monday, 30th May 2016, 10:29 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st May 2016, 7:37 am
A report has said people expect up to date communications from public services. Picture: Contributed

The move would be part of a “modern digital case management process” aimed at making the criminal justice system more efficient.

The report, by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, states: “The world was and is changing rapidly, and with it so too are people’s expectations of public services.” It adds that “in an era in which people and businesses communicate instantly by electronic messaging and social media, they will expect public services to adopt similar methods rather than cling to paper and postal-based practices”.

It comes after a report from the court service last year set out to “generate proposals for changes to the law, procedures and practice that will contribute to the modernisation of the criminal justice system so that it meets the highest standards of justice now and in the foreseeable future”.

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Prior to that, in May 2013, the then Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Carloway, called for “clear-sky thinking” to help bring trial procedures rooted in the Victorian era more up to date, using the latest digital technology.

Last year’s report proposed a greater use of digital evidence, including changes such as recordings of witnesses giving evidence being shown, rather than having their statements written 
down and then read out in court.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Digital transformation of the summary criminal justice system could substantially reduce the number of witnesses cited to court, repeated hearings and cases that drag on for many months only to be resolved without a trial ever taking place.”