News

Professional Court User WiFi – a success?

Date:

It seems odd today that anyone would get even remotely enthusiastic about an initiative to ensure that criminal courts across England and Wales had an effective wifi service available to court users. Yet, until recently that was very much just a dream – in many court centres there was not even a reliable phone signal.

But, if digital case files were to become the working reality, this digital backbone was essential and needed to be put into place fast.

Rollout was faster than many people expected, hampered only by legacy issues surrounding some older parts of the court estate (some of which were listed buildings), and more modern court centres financed under PFIs.

But the reality is that the project was indeed completed and 240 sites now allow criminal justice professionals in both magistrates’ and crown court to access, free of charge, the case papers that they need.

In April 2017 over 216,000 devices made a connection with the PCU WiFi system, delivering connections for any of the 19,000 users who needed it. The amount of data delivered is staggering, with downloads of over 473,000 GB during the last year, which is the equivalent of around 120,000 high definition movies.

What this means in practice is that information is shared more quickly among those that need access to it, and the days of photocopying and transporting hundreds of millions of sheets of paper are a thing of the past. There are significant costs savings for the prosecution, defence and courts service.

Of course, there have been teething problems along the way, and occasionally it needs switching off and back on again. But compared to the paper driven world that we worked in just a few years ago, the benefits have been huge for all concerned.

From a defence perspective working digitally has been a challenge for some, and it will take a while before some of the tools we need to work digitally are more fully integrated into our working lives. But for once, credit where credit is due – PCU WiFi has delivered.

For data geeks, here are the full numbers:

TOTALS (across 240 Sites both Mags and Crown Court)

MMM-YY

Clients (User Device Connections)

Usage (Gb)

No of Registered users

Avg Daily Usage (Gb)

May-16

268,622

26,258

14,695

1,194

Jun-16

195,299

23,778

15,132

1,081

Jul-16

211,713

25,968

15,507

1,180

Aug-16

196,984

23,892

14,930

1,086

Sep-16

224,245

35,258

15,539

1,603

Oct-16

232,670

36,365

16,243

1,653

Nov-16

175,965

31,909

16,946

1,450

Dec-16

192,050

34,880

17,228

1,585

Jan-17

223,596

43,355

17,704

1,971

Feb-17

234,753

48,099

18,192

2,186

Mar-17

300,307

76,446

18,630

3,475

Apr-17

216,527

66,958

18,950

3,044