More than 30,000 hours of court staff overtime were spent addressing backlogs created by January's courts IT meltdown, it has emerged. The staggering figure was revealed by HM Courts & Tribunals Service in its 2018-19 annual report and accounts, published today.
Multiple Ministry of Justice IT systems were affected by major disruption at the start of the year. Trials were delayed, jurors were unable to enrol and practitioners were prevented from confirming attendance that enabled them to get paid.
HMCTS says in its report: 'The impact was felt across HMCTS, with frontline operations of courts and courts business being acutely affected. Staff were unable to access systems for a prolonged period, leading to impacts on hearings and case preparation, which created backlogs requiring in excess of 30,000 hours of staff overtime to address. Contrary to inaccurate media reports in the national media, potentially damaging HMCTS’s reputation, there was no adverse impact on public protection as manual, largely paper based workarounds were adopted where required.'
The outages were caused by three separate incidents: disruptions from 16-22 January due to an outage on the criminal justice secure email service; a 'severe degradation' of MoJ IT infrastructure from 16-18 January; and a degradation of the service that allows staff to connect to the internet from 20-24 January.
HMCTS says a 'lessons learned' exercise was held with directors and deputies shortly after the incident.
The ministry says in its annual report, also published today, that the IT outage was 'reputationally damaging'. An independent analysis of the failings was completed in May. However, justice minister Robert Buckland said last month that the report would not be made public 'to protect the department's security and commercial interests'.
HMCTS's report also includes remuneration to board members. Employment costs for chief executive Susan Acland-Hood added up to £200,000-£205,000 in 2018-19, compared to £285,000-£300,000 in 2017-18. Total amount of salary and fees rose slightly, from £125,00-£130,000 in 2017-18 to £130,000-£135,000 in 2018-19. Acland-Hood received a £10,000-£15,000 bonus in 2018-19; no bonus was paid for the previous year. Pension-related benefits fell from £157,000 in 2017-18 to £55,000 in 2018-19.