back to article Conviction by computer: Ministry of Justice wants defendants to plead guilty online

Train fare and telly licence dodgers will be invited to plead guilty from the comfort and convenience of their phones, according to court reform plans unveiled by the Ministry of Justice. In a paper issued jointly last week by Lord Chancellor Liz Truss MP, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, and the senior …

  1. fordie

    Sounds like a obvious extension of the work that MoJ Digital did with "Make a plea". https://www.gov.uk/government/news/digital-make-a-plea-system-means-people-can-choose-where-and-when-they-plead

    Reducing the need for people to attend court when they're bang to rights seems like a no brainer to me. Also, fewer trees will have to die

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Allowing for profit companies to create the rigged system they will used to rake in fees, sounds like Kafka's novels had a fling with 1984 then fell into someone's in tray.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reducing the need for people to attend court when they're bang to rights seems like a no brainer to me. Also, fewer trees will have to die

      You can save trees without having to assume a bend-over posture when it comes to your rights. Even speeding tickets are not as clean as they are perceived to be, and I rather have a process that allows you to flag those things than one that just gives you a binary option, also because it can affect te fine/punishment associated with it.

      Secondly, automation first requires that you address the underlying problems - automating an existing problem just means you can make mistakes faster, it won't fix them.

      Last but not least, given the sterling performance of the various parts of government over the years, nay, decades in matters IT (even when they didn't have the "help" from Crapita) I would not like to put my trust in any automation right now. I know I'm being picky, but a track record matters to me..

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Automation....

        ... is usually a good thing but we should always bear in mind that it often works better for the bulk processor than the individual. Given that it is now perfectly possible to have a county court judgement entered against you without your knowledge (there is no requirement on the applicant to make any reasonable effort to find your current address or to send letters by recorded mail etc) for any amount over £1; that the Mere existence of such a CCJ may prevent you not just from getting a mortgage but even from renting a property; and that, according to a episode of Money Box (I think) on Radio 4 I heard recently, there may be tens or even hundreds of thousands of people affected by unknown CCJs, I think we ought to exercise some caution in welcoming these measures.

        1. Richard Jones 1
          FAIL

          Re: Automation....

          This could be turned against those who automate. 'Crook Debt collectors Plc' might once have had an office somewhere. Just send them an invoice for say £10 which will not be paid, then send them a county court paper for the same address. That should tie them up for months as a CCJ should be an inconvenience to them as a business.

          I had trouble changing the tariff with a well known mobile operator. Their web site is more like a useless sticky maze and whose telephone hindrance service offers nothing useful. I can see how their exploits go foul. I had to find an office with real people to start to unpick their mess. I had a further demonstration of how utterly useless they are today.Hopefully it will be sorted after more time has been wasted - perhaps I should bill them for mileage and wasted time. Bill to be sent to their old office of course...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Automation....

            Hopefully it will be sorted after more time has been wasted - perhaps I should bill them for mileage and wasted time. Bill to be sent to their old office of course...

            I'd get them a CCJ :)

        2. salamamba too

          Re: Automation....

          @ John H Woods - Receiving CCVs without notification has always been possible, just legally dubious. Some councils were notorious for their close relations with magistrates, resulting in no prior notice of intention being given to plaintiffs. As someone who illegally received a ccj like this (for not paying a penalty fine for a non-existent underpayment), I agree with those who argue to fix the sytem's failings BEFORE automating, perpetuating those failings.

  2. toxicdragon

    hmm

    On the one hand this sounds like a good idea, on the other hand Johnny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie keeps popping up in my head and I cant think why.

  3. TRT Silver badge

    Full disclosure?

    Not since Theresa May got her hands on the justice system it's not. It's a battleground between prosecution and defence, and the requirement to disclose the defence plea and the primary case for the defence in advance of the trial is a logical abomination - the defence case can actually be used by the prosecution as evidence in its own case. Thus, for example, in a case of assault where the prosecution would have had to prove the presence of the accused at the scene and the fact of their involvement in any affray before going on to prove that the accused was the assailant etc etc, they can now take a plea of not guilty (by reason of self-defence) as proof of the accused's presence and involvement. So logically, by entering the reason for the plea, a defendant has been forced by the state to provide evidence implicating them in a crime. It was the case before as well with alibi evidence - you have to disclose the names and addresses of all your alibi witnesses to the prosecution, and the same with expert witnesses - this is understandable, perhaps.

  4. Efros

    Visions of

    Justice World with simulants fighting Lister & Co.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ive got a solution...

    ...that has far less administrative overhead.

    1. Scrap the TV license. Make the Basically Boring Channel collect their own subscriptions.

    2. Make sweeping cuts to train fares and/or allow people on jobseekers allowance to use the trains for free. Can't get to interviews if you can't pay the £20 fare.

    3. Force the beeb to flog the Top Gear brand to Amazon.

    4. Make the bogs on the trains coin operated. Not only will this keep the toilets in a usable state by keeping out tramps and vomiting pissheads. It'll pay for the cleaning services they clearly dont have on the trains.

    This will also precent fare dodgers hiding in there when the conductor appears.

    5. Force the train companies to operate under the assumption that there will inevitably be a small percentage of people that dodge the fares rather than spending more than the fare is worth on prosecution.

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Ive got a solution...

      2: Which is another benefit to being unemployed, which will discourage people from getting a job ( if I get a job, I'll have to pay train fares ).

      4: What If I'm desperate and only have a £20?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ive got a solution...

        2. No its not. I believe most people want to earn a decent living. If I lost my job for reasons out of my control and I didnt have a pot to piss in, id find it harder to get off the dole if I didnt have access to something as basic as transport. You can only walk so far. Free transport would likely solve more problems than it would create.

        Its very easy for someone with a job and an income to call someone on benefits a sponger.

        Without benefits we'd see myriad problems arise.

        Job seekers allowance accounts for a relatively large portion of the benefits pie I get that. So the faster you get people off the less it costs in the long term.

        Make it harder to find work and you're guranteed to increase the numbers on benefits.

        I also believe people on the dole should be put to work to earn their benefits in some shape or form if they can't find a job within a reasonable amount of time. Get them assisting care homes, picking up litter, helping pensioners etc...within reason.

        Yeah yeah I know. Waah waah council workers blah blah out of work. Truth is if council workers were doing their jobs properly or (just balance the argument) were appropriately staffed there shouldnt be any litter to pick up, any public facilities that are rank and smell of piss etc. Therefore giving them an influx of additional manpower might improve things.

        Theres no incentive to being unemployed. I wouldnt give up my lifestyle for a council house and a few quid just because its free. Would you?

        Plus id rather there was a benefits system than droves of homeless beggars any day of the week.

        4. Lets remove the loos all together then. Most stations charge 20p for a slash...why not the trains?

        1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          Re: Ive got a solution...

          2: Maybe not to you, but certainly to some people. Free transport to job interviews is fine - phone the job centre and ask them for a free ticket. I know they at least used to do this, I assume they still do. The more things you give to free to people on the dole, the more incentive there is to just stay there - especially if your career options aren't particularly rosy.

          I agree with you on the mandatory work though, but I don't know if it would be worth it - it might cost more in paying people to make sure the long-term dole 'workers' are actually working. If they're on the dole because they're work shy, that is.

          4: Please, lets. Put a penny on the price of a ticket to cover the upkeep of the lavs ( assuming 1 in 20 uses the facilities ).

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Ive got a solution...

          Job seekers allowance accounts for a relatively large portion of the benefits pie I get that.

          No it doesn't, it accounts for about 3%

          State pensions account for around 50%, but branding the elderly as scroungers doesn't play well at the ballot box.

          The actual figures are trivially easy to find out to anyone who can be bothered, rather than swallowing whole the bullshit from the Daily Heil et al.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ive got a solution...

            Fine 3%. But that is my point exactly. Its not even worth getting bent out of shape about and people thinking people on benefits are an enormous problem are wildly misguided.

            The main problem is bitterness. The vast majority of people work their nuts off in a job they generally hate with people they generally loathe.

            Id imagine a lot of people here take their skillset for granted. Its not difficult to find a job in IT relatively speaking (depending on the market sector you prefer) and generally its a pretty cheap career to maintain as well (depending on your ability to get the most out of your kit).

            Markets and demand change over time, what was once in high demand isnt anymore. You cant blame people fornlosing their jobs because they arent required anymore.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Ive got a solution...

          "Without benefits we'd see myriad problems arise."

          The government seems to have forgotten that the prime effect of benefits is to keep the poor from rising up and murdering the rich.

          In any case, the vast majority (over 2/3 of the total tax revenue) of benefits paid out are pensions and pension perks (fuel allowances, bus passes, housing allowances, etc etc) - and that's set to only increase as boomers retire faster than the retirement age is raised (cue rant about them not having paid enough tax or saved enough despite what they might believe and claim)

          Of the "benefits" paid out under that name, most go to the working poor (which indicates that the minimum wage is too low) and most of what's left goes to sickness or other beneficiary types who can't work despite what Atos might claim.

          Less than 10% of benefit payouts go to jobseekers or other genuinely unemployed and only a tiny percentage of those are long term unemployed. Most are on seasonal work or spend less than 3 years on the dole.

        4. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Ive got a solution...

          " I wouldnt give up my lifestyle for a council house and a few quid just because its free. Would you?"

          The current system locks in rents at a low rate, so there's economic advantage in securing a council house before finding a job.

          It would make more sense to increase rents up to market rate on a sliding scale with household income - this would also finance building new accomodation (so any tory govt would likely oppose it)

    2. 1Rafayal

      Re: Ive got a solution...

      who is going to pay for the upkeep of all these coin operated train toilets?

      who is going to administer the systems that give people on ESA free train tickets - to where ever they want to go?

      why should these people get free tickets like this when I have to spend thousands a year to do the same journey, day in day out? If you have an interview that needs a £20 train ticket that you cannot afford, then you need to ask yourself, can I afford the commute to this job?

      why should the BBC be forced into becoming a subscription TV company?

      why should the BBC be forced into giving up a lucrative show such as Top Gear?

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Ive got a solution...

        "why should the BBC be forced into giving up a lucrative show such as Top Gear?"

        Well its broken now isnt it? The brand was worth something but after the experimental relaunch you can see that people cant see past the 3 idiots , so the name "Top Gear" is now useless to them.

        They may as well salvage a couple million by selling the name to Amazon , and just call the next car show something else - which will stop people hating it before they've even seen it because it hasn't got knobhead in it.

        1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Ive got a solution...

          "which will stop people hating it before they've even seen it because it hasn't got knobhead in it."

          Ummm. I think the problem was that it *did* have a knobhead in it.... a ginger one.

        2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Ive got a solution...

          @Prst. V.Jeltz

          just call the next car show something else

          Bottom Gear

      2. Clockworkseer

        Re: Ive got a solution...

        "If you have an interview that needs a £20 train ticket that you cannot afford, then you need to ask yourself, can I afford the commute to this job?"

        Y'all are aware that a £20 train fare may be perfectly affordable if you HAD the damn job? Now, back when I was doing this, there was a scheme where they'd pay your fares to get to an interview, which is probably fairer than a blanket "pay for all travel."

        It is a strange truth that it's easier to get a job if you already have one (having to faff with holidays for interviews aside)

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Ive got a solution...

          > Now, back when I was doing this, there was a scheme where they'd pay your fares to get to an interview, which is probably fairer than a blanket "pay for all travel.

          Some prospective employers will pay the fare for you to attend the interview. Yes really.

        2. MrZoolook
          Megaphone

          Re: Ive got a solution...

          I've long been an advocate of getting unemployment benefits on a card, which can be used in certain retail outlets or for certain products and services. This has a huge advantage over the current system, where benefits can go on lottery tickets and 20 B+H, or on a piss up at the local, only for the claimant to go cap in hand to the JobCentre and claim for a Hardship allowance.

          The additional price of a ticket to an interview can be added before or after the time, and the card be queried as to whether it was used to actually buy that ticket. This will help in fraud cases, where someone "says" they need a £20 ticket, but just gets a lift with their mate.

          Problem solved!

        3. VanguardG

          Re: Ive got a solution...

          I once had a company that bought a round-trip ticket for me to fly to Dallas, Texas to interview. I got off the plane, met the two interviewers, conducted the interview, and went to my gate for my flight home, never stepped out of the airport.

          Another paid for me to fly to Chicago (and back), paid for a rental car (even got a free upgrade), and a hotel for one night...I flew back the next morning...they even picked up food and parking expenses.

          Back in the day when flying somewhere was only uncomfortable when you actually were ON the airplane. Now one stands in line to check in, another line for an ID check, another for putting everything on your person into a plastic bin to make shopping easier for the TSA agents, then another line to go through the cancer-causing device...one ends up feeling like a cross between a cow being herded and a criminal being led to the execution chamber. If you're lucky, you'll actually still be on the plane when it leaves, so you don't have to go through the TSA circus (as one of the performing animals) again just to get home.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ive got a solution...

        Re: Ive got a solution...

        who is going to pay for the upkeep of all these coin operated train toilets?

        the coins.

        who is going to administer the systems that give people on ESA free train tickets - to where ever they want to go?

        the employment exchange, by using warrants not tickets.

        why should these people get free tickets like this when I have to spend thousands a year to do the same journey, day in day out? If you have an interview that needs a £20 train ticket that you cannot afford, then you need to ask yourself, can I afford the commute to this job?

        Once you have the job, you will be able to pay, and contribute vai taxation.

        why should the BBC be forced into becoming a subscription TV company?

        because its an overmanned/overmanaged luvvy club, and produces programs that are cheap rubbish.

        why should the BBC be forced into giving up a lucrative show such as Top Gear?

        Because TG is crap.

        Glad I was able to sort the out for you.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Ive got a solution...

          "the employment exchange, by using warrants not tickets."

          Employment exchange? That dates you. They've been Job Centre, or is it Job Centre Plus (or maybe something else now) for yonks.

          My brief encounter with them when they were still Employment Exchanges gave me the distinct impression that their staff's default mode of thinking was paying money to the permanently unemployed and thus institutionalising that status. Certainly the erk I dealt with - who was possibly on the wrong side of the counter - had to have it explained to him that not being able to sign on on a certain date because I was travelling to a job interview didn't mean I was unavailable for work that day.

          1. Jan 0

            Re: Ive got a solution...

            Just because they've changed the name from Employment Exchange to Job Centre (note the capitals) doesn't mean that it isn't still an employment exchange.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Ive got a solution...

              "Just because they've changed the name from Employment Exchange to Job Centre (note the capitals) doesn't mean that it isn't still an employment exchange."

              It's called "getting rid of the difficult bit in the title". Yes Minister, series 1, programme 1.

      4. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Ive got a solution...

        "If you have an interview that needs a £20 train ticket that you cannot afford, then you need to ask yourself, can I afford the commute to this job?"

        But once you have a contract in hand you can get an overdraft for the rail fares. Or an advance on your pay to get as far as your first pay cheque.

        1. Anonymous C0ward
          Pirate

          Re: Ive got a solution...

          Most stations charge 20p for a slash...

          Anyone else tried pulling the exit turnstile halfway and squeezing through? Or for the ones that have a gate across, waving your umbrella over the barrier at the sensor?

          Also, some of them are 50p, which takes the piss (pun intended)

      5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Ive got a solution...

        why should the BBC be forced into giving up a once lucrative show such as Top Gear?

        FTFY

      6. MrZoolook

        Re: Ive got a solution...

        Why should people who pay a subscription for sky fund the BBC if they don't watch it?

    3. smudge Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Ive got a solution...

      5. Force the train companies to operate under the assumption that there will inevitably be a small percentage of people that dodge the fares rather than spending more than the fare is worth on prosecution.

      I'm no fan of the train companies. But it's obvious that the main purpose of the prosecutions is to keep the percentage of people that dodge the fares small. They are a deterrent, not a revenue raiser. No prosecutions => percentage of people that dodge the fares becomes much larger.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Ive got a solution...

        "the main purpose of the prosecutions is to keep the percentage of people that dodge the fares small. "

        That's been turned on its head by some of the train companies, which has resulted in an ongoing investigation of their activities.

        Apparently it's frowned upon to turn fare dodging penalties into a profit centre, or to clog up the courts with such cases.

    4. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

      Re: Ive got a solution...

      +1 a set of moderate and sensible proposals.

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Ive got a solution...

      "1. Scrap the TV license. Make the Basically Boring Channel collect their own subscriptions."

      This is on the way by stealth.

      It's no longer a criminal matter to not have a TV license - which on the one hand makes it a civil matter with lower burden of proof, but on the other hand reduces the incentive to pay up in the first place.

      The TV licensing company (a private wholly owned subsidiary of the Big Brother Corporation) hires Crapita to actually go knock on doors and _their_ people run like fuck when confronted by cameras (they especially hate having their ID and car license plates recorded for some reason.....)

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Smooth Newt Silver badge
    WTF?

    Report's opening paragraph

    1. Introduction

    Our justice system is the envy of the world. We have an outstanding independent judiciary that is widely admired as an international leader. Our lawyers have a global and deserved reputation for excellence. And we have a legal services industry that contributes billions of pounds every year to the UK economy.

    Only last year, the Justice Secretary stated that the justice system is badly failing most people who use the courts whilst providing a gold standard of service to the wealthy. “It is the poorest in our society who are disproportionately the victims of crime, and who find themselves at the mercy of this creaking and dysfunctional system.”

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Report's opening paragraph

      It's OK, even with the new online-only system there will be a way for your QC to lodge an objection and then turn up with so many high powered lawyers that the volunteer magistrate is intimidated into letting you off.

      Rich people won't have to see any drop in the quality of service

      1. GrumpyOldBloke

        Re: Report's opening paragraph

        The paid for version of the justice app will have an undo button.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    Yet another go at improving the efficency of the court system through IT

    Because all the previous efforts have worked out so well, haven't they?

    IIRC this (along with GP's in the NHS) remains a big user of that new fangled fax machine.

    Hint. It's not the IT, it's the processes you need to get better first, and that means getting people involved who actually use them.

    1. Richard Jones 1
      WTF?

      Re: Yet another go at improving the efficency of the court system through IT

      Forty years ago someone wrote that businesses do not need computer systems, the first thing they need are working systems that might then be computerised.

      Glad(?) to know nothing changes.

    2. Mike Pellatt

      Re: Yet another go at improving the efficency of the court system through IT

      Hint. It's not the IT, it's the processes you need to get better first, and that means getting people involved who actually use them

      But you've missed the gov.uk mantra that you use IT to drive organisational change, because, well, people. And a new name for e-gov, innit.

      Another mantra that flies in the face of all the evidence and research.

  9. Dwarf Silver badge

    Time for more scams and malware

    The bad guys will latch onto this quickly.

    You've been fined, press here to download the evidence (.pdf.exe) and pay via Paypal.

    What could possibly go wrong.

  10. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Full disclosure

    While the British concept of justice includes full disclosure by both sides

    Ha! Don't make me laugh!!

    I have a friend who will be in court next month on serious charges. Not only have the prosecution still not provided all the evidence the defence have asked for*, but what they have provided has been a joke**.

    I have lost all faith in the police and criminal justice system. Cops don't try to find the truth, they try to get convictions. CPS use bully boy tactics and bow to political pressure. Judges don't even make an attempt to hide their contempt towards defence barristers. And on top of all this, if you don't have the money for a decent defence team, you may as well just bend over.

    * They didn't even supply transcripts of his police interviews, just a summary, at "full disclosure".

    ** For example the transcripts they received, after practically begging for them for months, had over 50% completely missing and many areas just "summarised" instead of transcribed. Also, some had been transcribed twice, and the two completely contradicted each other. Upon receiving the tapes and transcribing them themselves, there were huge mistakes throughout.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I pleaded guilty by post recently to a speeding fine. I dont know how i rubbed them up the wrong way when i wasnt there , but speeding at 38mph in a 30 zone cost me £245

    +costs

    +victim surcharge ( ?? )

    +the 100 for the speed awareness course i missed

    +increased insurance

    probly £500 in all

    So 2 lessons:

    NEVER miss a speed awareness course - you cannot re book

    NEVER plead guilty remotely unless you'd rather lose £200 than bother attending

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Not being there is taken as a "I'm better than you and have better things to do" by the judge in any country it seems. Better to show up, be polite and keep your gob shut as much as possible.

    2. goodjudge

      "Victim surcharge" (it has a proper government name that I don't recall) has to be applied by the court to all convictions. However, I do believe it's getting abolished soon.

      You also missed the most important third lesson:

      NEVER speed.

      1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: NEVER speed

        You also missed the most important third lesson:

        NEVER speed.

        I think it is fair to ask why not. It is against the law, and there is some chance of getting caught. In many cases it makes the risks greater for other road users, but I am not sure it is such a strong moral issue. Most cities have 20 mph speed limits these days, but the justification behind them is invariably based on the flawed trials which took place in Brighton and Bristol.

        I NEVER speed. I really don't, because I do enough driving that I worked out that I would eventually be caught if I got into the habit of speeding. However, I am also an antisocial bastard, which is essential if you want to never speed. Consequently I don't mind having a long queue of pissed off drivers behind me whenever I drive through 20 or 30 mph limits. However the amount of aggression this seems to generate - particularly in 20 mph zones - as people zoom past me makes me seriously wonder whether this might actually cause accidents, but then that is not my problem.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: NEVER speed

          "the justification behind them is invariably based on the flawed trials which took place in Brighton and Bristol."

          Actually there are good technical/physiological reasons for a 20mph speed limit.

          It's about the maximum velocity where if you hit a pedestrian there's a greater than 90% chance of survival.

          Prior to the 1930s the urban speed limit was 20mph. When speed limits were abolished this quickly proved to be a bad idea and the 30mph limit was rather arbitrarily chosen (there was no scientific basis for the setting). Setting it back down to 20mph is a good thing in my opinion as a cage driver (and ocassional pedestrian/cyclist)

          The 60 and 70mph speeds limits are also arbitrary - 70mph being the absolute top speed of the small cars of the time it was set and motorways being designed for 100mph. The issue there is "speed spread" and the danger comes from having traffic on the road moving at wildly different paces (more than 20mph spread is regarded as a bad thing, so someone driving at 50mph on a motorway is more dangerous than someone driving at 80).

          The local "safety partnership" loves to setup a speed trap on the A3 just south of the M25. There's a spot just north of the dual BPs where traffic freely flows at about 85mph and a parking bay 200 metres north of a ridge. Cars come over the ridge and get snapped by the camera before drivers have a chance to react. A little bit of digging shows that whilst camera fines are now paid to central govt, the "partnerships" get substantial kickbacks from the "speed awareness courses", which explains why they're still doing it rather than planting that mobile camera on my street (for instance) where 10,000 cars per week exceed 40mph and 1000 of those are going over 50mph.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I was caught doing 23 in a 20 zone by a cop van camping on a road that went from a 40 limit to a 20 limit in a very short distance on a bend.

      I felt like a proper twat when I was on the awareness course. They went round the room and asked each person what speed they were doing.

      Everyone else had been caught doing 80+ on the motorway...

      Even an old lady.

      I enjoyed the video though, it was nice to see the cast of The Bill arent entirely out of work.

  12. Toltec

    The first thing I noticed

    "government IT project"

    I wonder if it will be won/run by Capita, then, if you have a DD for your TV license they can just collect the fines without bothering you at all with any tedious paperwork.

    The concept that you will have a choice to select 'not guilty' is clearly ridiculous, if you are on the system you have already been found guilty, it is simply a matter of how much larger the penalty charge will be if you foolishly try to extend the process.

    Cynical?

  13. Christoph Silver badge

    On the computerised form you will have to fill in if accused of not having a TV licence, in the list of reasons for not having a licence from which you are required to pick one, will it include "Because I don't have a television!" or will that be mysteriously absent?

    I'm told that already happens with the printed notices they send you threatening to take you to court - I don't know myself, I bin them unread.

    There are already far too many computerised interfaces where you have to pick the least-worst option from a list because none of the supplied options are relevant. Trying to force court cases into options the computer can handle is likely to produce occasional dire results.

    1. Vincent Ballard
      Coat

      Not having a television is no longer sufficient reason to not have a TV licence. You have to also not watch live streams over the Internet.

      1. MrZoolook

        Quote: "Not having a television is no longer sufficient reason to not have a TV licence. You have to also not watch live streams over the Internet."

        You also have to not watch BBC iPlayer at all, live or not.

        Personally though, I never had a problem getting a "license not required" statement.

  14. CookieMonster999

    I wish to plead incompetence

  15. TRT Silver badge

    Any previous convictions?

    Yes. And I'm banned from using the Internet for 5 yea... ah.

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    Pork Markets

    Whenever I come across the name Liz Truss, it reminds me of this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRhlRM6rYck

    It's a nightmare

  18. TRT Silver badge

    Trial by computer indeed....

    why, it's inhuman!

  19. Teiwaz Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Doomed to be grossly overbudget and fail.

    We are told that this all-singing, all-dancing government IT project “will also notify and update victims and witnesses of crime about the cases they're involved in.”

    Overhauling a system that's been layered on since the 15th Century would seem to warrant more than a 20 page document.

    Nope, not going to happen. Even if it does get delivered for the magistrate courts, it'll fail when they try to apply it to criminal cases as usual not enough thought has gone in as the Gov. thinks it can just apply IT like a nice new cosmetic make-up and the entire system will work more efficiently, be user friendly and make everything bright, shiny and new.

    Kind of puts me in mind of the intro to Syndicate Wars, with the chipped individuals vision is all sunshine, cafes and waving policemen when the reality is a broken dystopian future drenched in grimy polluted rain and conviction by algorithm.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Doomed to be grossly overbudget and fail.

      As a "Victim and Witness Liaison Officer", this is a large part of the work that my partner does. Having heard the details of what her job involves, I can assure you that trying to do her job via an algorithm is doomed to fail.

      For instance, the task of getting reluctant witnesses to trial is not trivial, especially if they give false addresses and phone numbers.

      In the case of updating victims about their case, where the perpetrator may be around (for instance Domestic Violence cases, which are sadly much more common that you might imagine), how does an automated system guarantee that the message gets to the victim and not the perpetrator? As I understand it, this is precisely why it is currently done over the phone, and not by email, and why if the call goes to voice-mail, any message that is left can be no more than asking them to call you back on the public switchboard number.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brotip, you have the right to see the evidence against you before entering a plea.

    Especially more so, seeing as they'd probably pull underhanded shit like:

    if ($verdict == "not guilty") { return "guilty"; }

  21. JaitcH
    FAIL

    The Dictionary meaning for Capita is ...

    Failure.

  22. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    this will go the same way as speeding cameras, "we've got the evidence but we're not going to show it to you".

  23. Christoph Silver badge
  24. Blofeld's Cat
    Facepalm

    Hmm...

    "... and you are further charged with performing an illegal operation at ..."

  25. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    No victim?

    "summary non-imprisonable offences where there is no clear identifiable victim"

    So does that mean they'll be dropping the 'victim surcharge' (aka contributions to the Police Piss-up fund) for offernces with no victims?

  26. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "15th-century paper-based filing systems"

    C15th records are likely to have been on vellum and still useable* over half a millennium later which is unlikely to be the case for any electronic medium.

    *provided you can read abbreviated Latin in C15th handwriting.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ministry of Justice

    LOL

    More like Ministry of (exorbitant) Fines.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “That will change.”

    and if you THINK the system acts funny, like you feel you're being screwed, by can't put a finger on it? Then you must be WRONG, because the system is never wrong (no paper, no CD, you see, qed), and it can't and won't be abused, by those who know how to, or those able to access more than a "welcome to jail!" page, nosir, this silver bullet, as installed by our pals' company is bullet proof. And what are YOU starting at, 3644662626?!

  29. Nigel99

    CPS can not manage on-line pleas

    On-line justice will not work as the system will only be able to handle guilty pleas.The CPS usually only review minor cases a few minutes before they get into Court. So any requests for information / action often will not have been seen or acted upon. Every ones time is wasted.

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