The new paperless process, in operation at Lavender Hill Magistrates’ Court, means that thousands of offenders caught dodging fares or using fraudulent tickets can now be punished more swiftly and effectively.
The system has been developed by HM Courts and Tribunals Service in partnership with Transport for London. It means that Transport for London no longer has to manually process and physically deliver case papers to the court. Instead, prosecution evidence is now electronically transferred directly to the court. These cases are then considered by a magistrate and legal advisor on a laptop – freeing up court time to focus on more serious crimes.
Under the new system, Transport for London can prosecute some 18,000 commuter crimes a year in the capital more quickly and efficiently.
The Ministry of Justice has reported research that shows that offering people the chance to plead online in these kinds of cases actually means more respond than when pleas are requested on paper. The online process will mostly replace letters and court hearings where the person doesn’t turn up, but not yet all physical court appearances.
The system has already processed around 4,200 cases since April 2017 and has returned 3,000 sentences.