Criminal Proceedings: WiFi

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 14th December 2016.

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Photo of Lord Lester of Herne Hill Lord Lester of Herne Hill Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the duty in the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments, what assessment they have made of the benefits to hearing and visually impaired defendants of allowing the use of wi-fi in the criminal courts to enable them to input and receive relevant information.

Photo of Lord Keen of Elie Lord Keen of Elie The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice)

We want a justice system that works for everyone. HMCTS takes its public sector duty responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 seriously, and provides guidance to staff about the requirements of the Act and our obligation to consider reasonable adjustments for all court users with disabilities to provide equal access to its service and facilities.

The judiciary are also aware of their responsibilities when interacting and communicating with people with disabilities and have access to the Equal Treatment Bench Book to support them. Requests for reasonable adjustments for court users with disabilities are dealt with on a case by case basis and a range of measures are available.

The Professional Court User Wi-Fi service is not available to the public. It can only be used by Judges, Defence Practitioners (acting on behalf of defendants), Prosecutors, and those who work in a professional capacity to deliver criminal justice in criminal courthouses in England and Wales. However, all courtrooms have access to large screens on which evidence can be shared with the court and there is provision for temporary access to be provided to a defendant if required.

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