BRAND new technology allowing officers to give evidence at court via video link direct from a police station has been used for the first time.
The first Live Links trial was held between 21 and 23 May with a virtual link being set up between Sutton Coldfield police station and Birmingham Magistrates Court.
During the three day trial, seven officers were listed to give evidence, with three officers using the new Live Links technology.
Initial feedback from the trial has been extremely positive, the defendant was found guilty of the offence and several benefits presented themselves to the force:
- During the three day trial, the new system saved 81 hours of police officer’s time
- In monetary value (based on the 2011/12 hourly pay average) the trial presented a net saving of £1,740
- 144 miles in travelling distance was saved
- No overtime was incurred by the officers warned for the case.
In a second trial due to take place on 18 June, the system once again highlighted it effectiveness as on this occasion the case was adjourned until August.
Had the Live Links technology not been used, the officer in the case would have had to travel into court, only to be stood down and not give evidence. In this case the Live Link saved three hours of an officer’s time and the related travelling costs. Most importantly this maintained an officer operationally on front line duties instead of sitting, waiting in a court corridor.[pullquote_right]“The move towards Live Link technology will ensure that we are utilising our officers in the most efficient way possible.”[/pullquote_right]
Inspector Stewart Crawford, from Community Justice and Custody, said: “We are extremely pleased by the results of this first trial, and are looking forward to future test cases during June and July.
“The move towards Live Link technology will ensure that we are utilising our officers in the most efficient way possible.
“For example, officers often spend a considerable amount of time waiting at court to give evidence; it is fair to say that Live Link will massively reduce this waiting period. This will then allow them to be deployed on other duties until required, such as patrolling or, if there is only a short time before they are needed to join proceedings, carrying out station-based work.
“This is in addition to the financial savings presented by reduced travelling costs and need for overtime payments.”
Currently, it is the responsibility of CPS prosecutors to complete and submit a Live Link application form to the court and the defence for a suitable trial, but it is for the court to agree whether the technology can be used.
Officers giving evidence over the Live Link then follow usual court protocols, introducing themselves, addressing the magistrate and giving their evidence in the standard way.
The Live Link tests currently focus on ‘Summary only’ or ‘either way’ offences tried in the magistrates’ court. This excludes hate crime, DV and youth cases, but it is anticipated that the scope of the scheme will be increased in the near future.
To find out more about the Live Links project, please visit the intranet site here (only accessible to serving WMP officers and staff from force computers).