The Victorian government will introduce legislation that will allow it to dramatically boost the rate of criminal court proceedings conducted by video-link technology.
The bill, backed by Attorney General Martin Pakula, will make video-enabled appearances for adults remanded in custody the standard procedure, except in instances where a physical presence in court is required.
The electronic approach is set to ease the burden on the justice system, which repeatedly transports prisoners back and forth between courts to face hearings, many of which are purely administrative in nature, the government said.
It is also expected to free up time either side of often short appearances for lawyers to communicate with their clients.
“Video technology will help ease some of the pressure on police cells and the court system more generally, ensuring prisoners dealt with in a timely manner,” Pakula said in a statement.
“This is about modernising Victoria’s justice system in the most efficient and effective way.”
The shift is backed by a $14.7 million investment in courts technology, which will see upgraded video conferencing technology installed in the state’s 53 magistrate’s courts, and the existing network infrastructure replaced to boost the bandwidth available to run concurrent video calls.
The technology is already up and running in Melbourne’s Children’s Court and the central Magistrate’s Court, plus eight other metropolitan and regional courts.
It is expected to be fully functional across all of the 53 courts by early 2017.
Prior to the rollout, just under half of the state’s courts were equipped with video conferencing facilities, but the majority of the systems were nearing end of life.