MoJ to review digital transformation impact on access to justice
Report on effect of common platform ‘expected by summer 2021’
Credit: Clara Molden/PA
The Ministry of Justice is to undertake a comprehensive review of the impact of the common platform IT system on citizens’ access to justice.
The implementation of the common platform is a £280m programme to equip the criminal-justice system with a single case-management system that will replace several discrete tools currently in operation. The platform will ultimately be used by law enforcement, the Crown Prosecution Service, and HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
In answer to a written parliamentary question from Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts, Edward Argar – who this week moved from his role as justice minister to a posting at the Department of Health and Social Care – said that the government will conduct an official investigation into the effect of the new technology on people’s access to the legal system.
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“HMCTS is committed to ensuring that common platform maintains and improves the level of access to justice across the criminal justice system,” he said. “A key part of reform design is engaging with users to understand their needs and develop a system that offers greater engagement opportunities for example by providing an additional route for users to engage through a digital process.”
Argar added: “The Ministry of Justice is to undertake an overarching evaluation of the reform programme to understand the effect of reform on access to justice. An interim report is expected by summer 2021.”
In answer to a separate question from Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi, Argar said the MoJ is aiming to ensure the common platform is “fully operational” by the end of the 2021 fiscal year.
“But, as with any programme, timelines are continually reviewed,” he added.
Argar also revealed that delivering the digital mark-up system – an interim tool developed to support the operation of the outgoing case-management system while work on the common platform continues – cost the government £13.5m upfront. Ongoing support of digital mark up costs about £600,000 a year, he added.
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The proportion of offences resulting in a formal charge increased slightly, but remains at barely more than one in every 50