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Ministry of Justice unveils new online plea system

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ (opens in new tab)) is set to introduce a new digital system that will allow motorists to enter a plea online when charged with minor motoring offences.

This development comes as part of ongoing work by the government to modernise the courts and justice system in the UK that aims to simplify access and provide better value for taxpayers.

Following a successful pilot in Greater Manchester, the new ‘Make a Plea’ service will begin to be rolled out across England and Wales later this month.

Those charged with offences such as speeding, failing to identify the driver or using a vehicle without insurance will now be able to use a secure website to respond to charges made against them.

“Digital technology gives us an opportunity to make the justice system simpler, clearer and faster – and part of this means reducing or removing the unnecessary movement of paper, and people, around the system,” claimed Courts Minister Shailesh Vara (opens in new tab).

“The new ‘Make a Plea’ service is reducing the case time and costs for the courts and the Police, ensuring that they can focus on the most complex cases. It makes it easy, simple and quick for people to access justice.

“Wider modernisation of the courts has included investing £160m in digital technology for courtrooms including video links, wi-fi, and improved IT systems to end the system’s reliance on paper,” Vara added.

Time and money expected to be saved

According to the government, low level traffic offences make up some of the highest volume work that Police, prosecution and courts have to deal with.

Such cases are said to be time-consuming, although in many instances, the offender is able to plead guilty by post or their case being proven in absence when they do not attend or contact the court.

The MoJ offers the new digital plea system 24 hours a day via any suitable device and is offered as an alternative to a postal plea or attending court.

The Ministry hopes that it will save work and money for the criminal justice system, save time and simplify the process for defendants.

Nearly a third of people used the digital service in the Greater Manchester pilot scheme.