The government has rolled out a service to motorists that are accused of minor offences, including speeding, that will enable them to enter a plea online. While it is considered to offer a little more convenience to the driver, it is widely considered to offer considerable savings for the court administration system.
What’s more, the government is considering rolling the plan out for minor crimes that are not driving related, and is taking steps to make the whole court system a more digital based one, in the hope that it will further shave costs. Small claims would also be dealt with digitally. The system was trialled in Greater Manchester and is being rolled out across the rest of the country from March onwards. Drivers will be able to access a website, where they will be able to submit a plea, 24 hours a day.
The new online system is designed to take the place of postal pleas. Users will be able to see the offence they are accused of, will be able to review the evidence against them, and can then enter their plea of guilty or not guilty. During the trial in Greater Manchester, the service was used by more than 1,200 people and ministers are hopeful that it will continue to prove successful after its roll out, so that it can also be applied to non-motoring related offences.
The scheme will be used only for some of the more minor motoring offences, and in cases where a Fixed Penalty Notice would usually be sent to the driver. Speeding offences, failing to stop at a red light, and even driving without insurance are included as offences that might be dealt with in this manner.
If a driver pleads not guilty to an offence, then a court date is likely to be set, and the alleged offender will be summonsed. With online payments and online pleas, the move could save the government millions every year in court administration costs. If the scheme is rolled out to include other minor offences, the savings would prove to be even more significant.