back to article £1bn Brit court digitisation scheme would be great ... if Wi-Fi situation wasn't 'wholly inadequate'

The tech behind the £1bn justice system modernisation programme, intended to digitise the process against a backdrop of court closures, has been slammed by British MPs. The House of Commons Justice report [PDF] said: "Courts service modernisation, including use of better IT to be more efficient, is long overdue. "But we have …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "More than 250,000 people have used our online services in the past year, with more than 80 per cent satisfied with their experience."

    I wonder if the spokesman has tried calculating how many were dissatisfied and considered whether that's a number they should be prepared to live with.

    1. Fr. Ted Crilly
      Big Brother

      80%

      Nice the way the statement sorta suggests that its 80% of the 250000 rather than the actual 80% of those who bothered to respond to the feedback request, which i'm quite sure will be ahem somewhat (understatement mode) less than the quarter mil suggested.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: 80%

        Bigger problem: 80% of the people who used the system, i.e., accessed documents, were satisfied, but did they count the people who couldn't use it (no wi-fi, too slow...)? Was it an online feedback form?

    2. Kane Silver badge
      Joke

      "I wonder if the spokesman has tried calculating how many were dissatisfied and considered whether that's a number they should be prepared to live with."

      Impossible, the Wi-Fi was down, so they couldn't access their Excel 365 account.

  2. David Roberts
    Mushroom

    WiFi?

    I am aware that the whole Court system is drastically underfunded and has massive maintenance problems, from leaking rooves to broken lifts and closed canteens.

    But WiFi - Jeez! This is a commodity item and is installed in offices, shops, cafes, homes......it just works.

    How the fuck can they spend millions and not have working WiFi?

    1. Steve Foster
      Holmes

      Re: WiFi?

      Take your pick:

      a) they bought a huge number of 802.11b routers, and are _still_ rolling them out,

      b) it was outsourced to Capita,

      c) WiFi? Not in the spec, guv. That'll be a change request...

      d) all of the above.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WiFi?

      This year's supplier rather than in house IT.

      Each and every change of provider is a "rip out and replace".

      Because if someone else put it in it's "legacy"

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: WiFi?

      "This is a commodity item and is installed in offices, shops, cafes, homes......it just works."

      To be fair, there can't be many courthouses in the UK which have been built since wifi was invented, and I should imagine that many were built before electricity was common.

      If you've lived or worked in an old building you'll know that two feet thick stone walls are great for longevity, but poor for GHz frequency transmissions.

    4. MGJ

      Re: WiFi?

      Have you been in some of the court buildings involved? Listed buildings, with huge thick walls, that are constantly in use. But try closing one and moving to a new purpose built building, and all you'll hear are complaints.

      Interesting to hear that HMCTS are still having issues with digital working. I wrote them a Scoping Study 18 years ago on case management but EDS stomped on it.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WiFi?

      Wouldn't you rather they have NO WiFi in court instead of broadcasting the court cases to anyone within sniffing distance

      (apart from restricted public WiFi to prevent folks from googling/twattering the case)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: WiFi?

        Wouldn't it be better to NOT have Wifi? Especially Wifi that's set up with your bog-standard security (the stuff you plug in an 'just works'?)

        If something is being shown in court on a computer, I want it on a cable. Plugged into a known port, with no connection to the outside world and with some sort of cryptographic signing to prove that what you're being shown is the evidence that is supposed to be shown.

        I do not understand the mind that would conceive of an insecure, easy-to-spoof system being used in court. You're one Man-in-the-middle from having changed documents inserted, or private testimony leaked. They must have some additional layer of security, they're not daft, but how secure can it be when there's an expectation for it to 'just work, it's only WiFi!'?

        And then that feeds a Jury made up of people who, in my experience as a Juror, don't understand what they're there for. But that's another rant...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't get the staff

    IR35 continues it's rollout.

  4. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Maybe I'm old...

    ...But if I wish to truly study a document and retain any information, I find it easier to do so from a printed page than a .PDF - no matter how nice the monitor.

    I suspect I'm not alone in this.

    So if I'm hoping a jury will exonerate me through careful study of documents, I'd prefer if they have hardcopy rather than a cheap govt issue policy laptop.

    1. Notas Badoff

      Re: Maybe I'm old...

      And notes in the margins, circled passages, definitions of difficult terms added in, etc. Try to remember a timeline that ran over several months without annotations and own notes. Everything we wrote on was shredded at end of trial. No problem as we knew we'd gotten the right verdict. But if we hadn't had the notes? Uncertainty.

    2. Joel Mansford

      Re: Maybe I'm old...

      I think the answer is having the option to have both available. I spent an obscene amount of time in family court over a 3year span and found that having access to ALL of the documents stored in a format that could be searched invaluable not least because court time is so limited.

      On one occasion at the end of a 3day trial I had the judge and both sets of counsel passing my laptop around to look at documents which hadn't been thought to have been relevant (and thus weren't in the bundles).

      This is an area technology can make a massive difference to the efficiency of a group of very expensive individuals!

  5. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Nice

    Nice. So, a nice high tech solution is in place (that may or may not work otherwise), without making sure the technology actually exists at point of use to use it.

    I.e., systems that need internet access expected to be used in areas with slow or no wifi; and electronic document systems expected to be used in locations without access to a computer.

    Brilliant!

  6. Mixedbag
    Facepalm

    Unfortunately, these things need internet to work

    Seeing the way government seems to 'work', the solution to the wifi not working well enough will not be to spend maybe £20,000 per building on getting a well engineered wifi solution but will decide that all the buildings are not suited to working with digital technology.

    Therefore they will spend several millions per building knocking it down and building a new one.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Government Procurement at the DoJ looks pretty poor....but wait.....

    Ref: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice/about/procurement

    Quote: "Most of our procurement involves a competitive tendering process and follows the EU procurement regulations and directives."

    Note "Most". Boris and his pals will soon be giving this approach short shrift. And people at Babcocks, BAE, Capita.......will be rubbing their hands with glee when those interfering EU regulations can be replaced by something less restrictive.

    "No magic money tree".......LOL.

    See also: https://www.softwareadvisoryservice.com/en/blog/biggest-uk-government-project-failures/

  8. Al fazed
    Devil

    Fucked up thinking process

    IMHO it doesn't matter whether the fucking Wi Fi works or not. The lawyers, solicitors, prosecutors all put their heads together and decided the outcome before anyone stands in the dock. It doesdn't matter whether the person is really guitly or not as they will get their way and a successful prosecution even when the evidence available is to the contrary.

    It's so fucking corrupt how much more fucked up can it get ?

    Oh yeah hide this crap behind some AI techno babble.

    ALF

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