A flexible approach to justice is very much en vogue at the moment, but could this be taking things to extremes? Solicitors in Beccles, Suffolk were perplexed earlier this month to see a van arrive in the town equipped with technology for witnesses to give evidence in ‘court’.
The county has been hard-hit by the ongoing closures programme, with facilities at Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft disappearing.
So is evidence out the back of a van the answer? It would appear not.
The Ministry of Justice insists there is no ongoing or proposed pilot scheme in Suffolk to replace court facilities with a van. Apparently outsourcing company Serco acted entirely off its own back in demonstrating the technology to local lawyers earlier this month. The video screen was in good working order, Obiter is told, but toilet and conference facilities left a little to be desired.
As did the driver's choice of parking spot, which from the photo appears to be on a double yellow line.
The MoJ confirmed it had tested the use of video link vans for a ‘small number’ of hearings in the summer between a prison and some London courts. No decisions have been made whether the test was deemed successful.
As for Suffolk, it would appear the van has now been driven away and will not return. Finding a way to serve the entire county from one single magistrates' court in Ipswich is a task still in transit.