Just 27 of the Ministry of Justice’s 226 public facing services are digital by default, according to a new register, while 134 are paper based.
The ministry’s 27 digital by default services include applying for bankruptcy, guidance on eligibility for legal aid and entering a plea for a traffic offence. A further 27 are digital, but do not meet the Gov.uk digital by default standard, while 40 provide information.
The remaining 134 are paper-based, often involving the downloading of a form that has to be filled in, printed and posted or emailed. They include many types of court appeals, challenges to benefit decisions and divorce applications.
The register has been compiled by the central digital project team in the ministry’s digital and technology service to provide an overview of the services it offers. Matthew Solle, head of design at the digital and technology service, said it will help the ministry to avoid looking at services in isolation and provide a way to track progress, in a blogpost on the work. “A truly inclusive and accessible justice system is too important for us to still be wrestling with online PDFs in five years’ time,” he added.
The ministry has also started listing some single justice procedure cases online. The procedure was introduced in 2015 for summary-only, non-imprisonable, victimless offences where the defendant pleads guilty or ignores a deadline, and involves a magistrate trying and sentencing cases based on paperwork without a hearing.
Previously, lists of cases were only published at individual magistrates’ courts. The online listings currently only cover cases regarding TV licensing in the Midlands and Transport for London, which are handled by the ministry’s Automated Track Case Management (ATCM) system. However, the listings will expand to cover all TV licensing as well as DVLA cases as these are transferred to ATCM. The ministry has previously said the system could also be used by the police and other prosecutors.
The online listings, published daily as a PDF, provide the defendant’s first initial and surname, home town and first two letters of post code, offence and prosecuting authority. The ministry said that online listings will be more accessible to the media and the public.
Image by Tim Green via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons licence.