back to article You're burning £1.2bn for what? UK spending watchdog gives digital court plans a kicking

UK Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has told HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) that it has "much to learn" as it ploughs on with its ambitious £1.2bn court digitisation project. westminster magistrates court Ministry of Justice scraps 'conviction by computer' law READ MORE The PAC, which is the House of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So Judge Dredd is a computer. What are we going to call society in the future? Old Dystopia or New Dystopia.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Future Crime...

      Dystopia 2.0

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Future Crime...

        You're assuming the current dystopia is ready for release, it's not even a beta product yet.

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
          Trollface

          Beta

          Shurely in this day and age a prime candidate for release?

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      So Judge Dredd is a computer. What are we going to call society in the future? Old Dystopia or New Dystopia.

      The digital feudal system. They're just replacing local lords (who've been occasionally know to go Robin of Sherwood with corporations, who sometimes do charity, but also very 'charitable' to poor government servants.

      1. annodomini2

        "The digital feudal system. They're just replacing local lords (who've been occasionally know to go Robin of Sherwood with corporations, who sometimes do charity, but also very 'charitable' to poor government servants."

        Neo-Feudalism

  2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    The 1950s called

    They want their SciFi stories back.

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    Outsourcing some of it to India

    which will:

    * kill English jobs. It might save the HMCTS some ££ but, overall, it will be bad for the UK economy. Why can't we have joined up a government thinking which tries to award its contracts within the UK (and EU, until Brexit). This would have created employment in the UK, which would help offset the 5,000 redundancies.

    * be a security nightmare. Highly personal and sensitive data being sent somewhere and viewable by people who we have no control over. How long before a major leak ?

    Muppets.

    1. John H Woods

      Re: Outsourcing some of it to India

      Never saves money

  4. Steve K Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Bzzt!

    Siri: "Bzzt! John Spartan, you have been fined 5 credits.."

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Bzzt!

      Siri: "Bzzt! John Spartan, you have been fined 5 credits.."

      "He doesn't know how to use the three seashells..."

      Mine's the one with the ratburger in the pocket...

  5. adam payne Silver badge

    Ten years in the cubes

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    True and Tried Software

    What software package is being used in the US Federal Court system, and in the corresponding Australian one?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: True and Tried Software

      What software package is being used in the US Federal Court system, and in the corresponding Australian one?

      Why would those countries do it better? They've had a range of well reported billion-buck screwups on simple public sector transaction processing systems., invariably involving the same big leechiferous IT corporations.

    2. Peter 39

      Re: True and Tried Software

      Don't know about Oz but the US system PACER has mixed reviews. It does work but there are lots of issues.

      A new system could and should do a lot better.

  7. IWVC

    Trial (conviction) by Computer

    "It also warned that the controversial "conviction by computer" plans pioneered by HMCTS, in which people accused of crimes will be encouraged to plead guilty from their phones and pay fines online instead of questioning what evidence the State has against them, could have "serious implications"."

    This has been happening for years in the UK with vehicle traffic violations caught on camera such as speeding resulting in a computer generated fine and penalty points being sent automatically with no human monitoring. Even worse it is the "registered keeper" of the vehicle that is assumed to be guilty unless he/she can prove - to the satisfaction of the authorities - that they were not the driver at the time. What was that about innocent until proven guilty?

    1. Peter 39

      Re: Trial (conviction) by Computer

      Being not from UK and driving while on holiday I was nailed for one of these. I admit that it's an awkward place but I suspect that it has been left as-is to be a speed trap. A long downhill that suddenly becomes 20 mph. Doing 27 will get you busted.

      So you're out £40 for the rental car company to inform plod who you are, then you get a £100 splat from plod. Which you can avoid if you attend one of the classes offered but, of course, you have to be in the UK for that. No concept of on-line class - in-person only.

      Whap. Whap. Great way to encourage me to visit again.

      p.s. most people like me spend more brain cycles remembering to stay on the left side of the road. By pissing us off with overly-stupid speed traps you're forcing us to spend our attention elsewhere. Be careful of the mayhem you invoke.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Trial (conviction) by Computer

        By pissing us off with overly-stupid speed traps you're forcing us to spend our attention elsewhere. Be careful of the mayhem you invoke.

        Alas, only one upvote allowed.

        People with a few brain cells switched on have been saying this for years, and there is plenty of evidence of some cameras being placed to maximise revenues rather than to maximise safety. Unfortunately, it's been politicised to the point where simply questioning the system gets you labelled as a child murdering speed freak.

        The car manufacturers, at great expense both fiscal and engineering (a sheet of steel would be stronger than an opening with glass in it), put this big clear window in front of the driver. So the muppets devise schemes to encourage the driver to put their primary attention on the dashboard rather than on what's going on around them.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I took the advice of a duty solictor before a court case

    Best advice I ever took. Save a lot of grief.

    1. eldel

      Re: I took the advice of a duty solictor before a court case

      Some decades ago, when I was still resident in the sceptered isle my mechanic friend was clocked doing #stupid mph when 'road testing' my car. His copy of the copper's roadside paperwork clearly showed his name and details. Yet the ensuing court case was aimed at me. Nothing I could say would alter the "that's the police report so it's you" response from the system.

      Until I paid a good lawyer who just laughed and surmised that the idiot in a uniform had lost his copy but still had the number plate info from the stop check enquiry. So they put my name down (the registered owner) and thought job done. One letter later (only 50 quid because it was a standard letter) and the charges were dropped - well, redirected.

      So lawyers may be blood sucking parasites bit sometimes even leeches have their uses.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I took the advice of a duty solictor before a court case

      Same here.

      Arrested for something I hadn't done and was offered a duty solicitor, initially turned the offer down. After all I had nothing to hide.

      But then had a rethink and thought there is nothing to lose in having the solicitor.

      Turns out that

      a) if you haven't done it the police often REALLY do not believe you and

      b) some police are real bastards.

      Under advice I took a no comment interview in order to gather information about WTF the police were going on about. Thing is you have to reply "no comment" to ANY and All questions in the recorded interview. So it can start quite reasonably but they can then accuse you of the most horrendous stuff but you cannot reply other than "no comment". Almost decked the bastards at one point.

      Even when something is said that is helpful to you, "no comment".

      Hardest hour or two so of my life. Though I did find out some of what they were going on about so it was worth it, I think.

      Did several more interviews

      Duty solicitor was SUPERB throughout. Police dropped the "case" three weeks later but by then had completely screwed my life and business.

      Beer because the solicitor deserves it and many more.

      Use you rights take the solicitor.

  9. The Nazz Silver badge

    Bit rich of the lawyers to be complaining.

    HMCTS and the Justice system could have saved £billions under the old system had they got their house, and the lawyers and the Law Society in order first.

    For example, tip of the iceberg. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-44628179

    Comes to something when both the outgoing President of the Family Division Sir James Mumby and the incoming President Sir Andrew McFarlane have major misgivings about the system, with the former describing that particular situation as a "vice in the system."

    One of the vices, sir, only one of the vices. One of many.

    Second example : A few years back a Barrister was jailed for Perverting the course of justice, a carefully planned and almost carefully executed plan to wilfully mislead the Court.**

    And yet was back practising as before , immediately upon his early release.

    Fair justice would expect him to have been struck off for life, as would a Doctor, an Accountant and many other "professionals".

    One of the lesser consequences being the wasted Court time and substantial delay to ending that case ( and the knock on effect of all others).

    Not to mention the major consequences on the victims, the father and the children , whose interests are supposedly held by all to be PARAMOUNT.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bit rich of the lawyers to be complaining.

      Not to mention the major consequences on the victims, the father and the children , whose interests are supposedly held by all to be PARAMOUNT.

      Only paramount on paper, and all professionally concerned know that.

      Lawyers treat all legal cases as a game. They certainly do want to win, but for personal pride rather than any care about the outcome. They HAVE to approach it in this way, otherwise somebody whose guilt seemed obvious and apparent would never get effective representation. That does mean quizzing witnesses, checking for every procedural aspect in the police case, looking for every loophole, every opportunity to cast doubt. If a defence lawyer wouldn't do his utmost to get an obvious slimeball off the hook, why should anybody trust him to defend some supposedly more righteous case.

      In that context, the justice system is simply a legal jousting environment, and is set up accordingly.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Justice is expensive...

    ....and you don't want plebs "wasting" money that could go towards tax breaks for the top 1%

    With the coming new order, possible via the brexit scam, justice will be reserved for the few. Everyone else will get what they are given and like it, I say "given" implying they would get it free, HA think again.

    So a happy return to the good old days when the prostitutes outnumbered their gentlemen customers and disease and starvation was the normal cause of death for the common man.

    I would have included murder but since "murder" requires some form of accessible justice then it becomes just another natural cause for the 99% who make the money but never get to spend any of it.

  11. rmacd

    2017 called

    They want their stock photos back

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The only thing that needs outsourcing in this country is the Conservative party, preferably to landfill.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      I don't think many of our parties cover themselves in glory - or even deoinstrate some basic levels of competence

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hypothetically speaking

    Lets say you have 10 people accused of a crime, kids no less and they are all blaming each other with one of them being blamed twice and one of those not blaming anyone else as they didn't see it. What does the computer decide in such situations? Does it charge the two mentioned, up the crime to crown court and make a deal for probation if you lie and say you committed the crime even though you are innocent and the police officer involved in the case conspired with other accusers to change stories? just wondering because it needs to be realistic.

    1. tentimes

      Re: Hypothetically speaking

      This

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hypothetically speaking

        Shame I wasn't really speaking hypothetically. The fun part is the same crime was committed by someone else while one was present and the police officer in question again got people to change statements and because of the first crime they had to lie again and confirm guilt for something they didn't do so it was only probation rather than risking prison because it's a second offence and to think they want to pass the little justice in this country to computers.

  14. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    To the bar. Queens Technologist.

    It’s really simple. It involves 3 people. The machines do the the repetitive work. There’s no outsourced pauper factory. Alongside performance measure and analysis you have to innovate. #restingonyourlaurels

    1. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

      Re: To the bar. Queens Technologist.

      #thehonestlawyer

    2. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

      Re: To the bar. Queens Technologist.

      #imallears

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "uninformed and inappropriate decisions"

    Or to put it another way, decisions that would cut lawyers' incomes.

    Many, many years ago, I was charged with fare dodging on British Rail. (Long story short, my ticket had expired.) I tried to plead guilty by post, figuring I'd pay a fine and that'd be the end of it.

    But no, when I said I'd thought my ticket was valid, the court wasn't having it. They changed my plea to "not guilty". So now, instead of just paying up, I had to take a day off work, get up before dawn, travel 2 hours to the location of the court, wait, be humiliated, and told the magistrates didn't believe me so I had to pay the fine anyway.

    Everyone has this fantasy, nurtured by Hollywood, of standing up to The Man and walking away with their head held high. It's bullshit. The courts just want to make sure you pay your lawyer tax.

  16. David 164

    Another IT program aimed at saving money not improving services, it will probably burn through that 1.2 billion long before the 2023 and long before any of this reaches the public domain.

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