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Roll out of agents to prison video link reaches final stage
Tuesday, Jun 14, 2016
With the successful completion of our agents to prisons video link pilot we would now like to encourage all firms who travel to prisons to register to use the video facilities.
This coincides with the continued roll out of video links in both prisons and courts, with further prison facilities being added in the coming weeks.
Our previous update provided details of the agents to prison video link system, which allows solicitors to consult with their clients in prison using their own computer equipment i.e. desktop PC/Laptop or tablet.
The key benefits of having meetings by video link are:
- Less time spent travelling and waiting at prisons
- Meetings can be held with clients located in different prisons on the same day
- Increases productivity –video link meetings can be conducted from a desktop with a webcam or a tablet device
- Increases productivity – instead of being stuck in traffic or waiting at prison you can carry out other business
- Reduction in vehicular emissions and the carbon impact of legal aid expenditure.
Solicitors already doing video link meetings with clients in prison have told us it frees up considerable time previously spent driving to and from facilities. It also ensures meeting can go ahead even when poor weather conditions made travel difficult.
One solicitor went as far as to say the time savings were “remarkable” with the extra time now used to deal with other clients.
Feedback suggests that video link interviews have also been well received by prisoners, who have commented to solicitors that they had no difficulties seeing or hearing them during meetings.
People have generally found the setting up and use of the system easy, and have told us that prison staff have been polite and helpful. They said the time they spend waiting for clients to be brought to the video room is usually no longer than a few minutes and is considerably less than the waiting times usually experienced when attending in person.
What prisons are involved?
Solicitors who are registered can currently book a video link consultation at the following prisons:
Addiewell, Barlinnie, Cornton Vale, Edinburgh, Grampian, Inverness, Low Moss, Perth, Polmont, Dumfries, Glenochil and Shotts
Roll out of further prisons
Work to make more prisons operational is now at an advanced stage.
Two further prisons - Kilmarnock and Greenock - will become operational during the month of July.
How does it work?
Solicitors using the system are able to have a meeting with their client using their PC, Laptop or tablet. To ensure that the system is secure solicitors have to be registered before they can access the system. Once you are registered you will be able to book a video link consultation at any of the participating prisons.
You can book a video link consultation with a client in the same way as you would book a physical visit. When you book a visit by video link you receive an email confirming the booking which contains a secure code. The code is unique to the particular booking and allows the solicitor to connect to the prison video conferencing facilities.
The video link is carried out using the internet so having broadband access and good internet performance is essential.
The video link is performed using a software ‘client’ downloaded from the internet.
How do I register?
The registration process is straightforward and we will provide full support to ensure you get set up quickly and help with any technical questions. Further guidance is available on our website.
For further information please contact: Christine Connerton, Digital Services Marketing Officer: Connertonch@slab.org.uk
Court to prison VC Project
The use of video links from courts to prisons to conduct full committal and intermediate diet hearings is now operational in 11 Sheriff Courts. The High Court of Criminal Appeals also uses video links to conduct solemn sentence appeal hearings.
Video link facilities are provided within the each of the 11 court buildings to enable solicitors to consult with their client prior to and after the court hearing where necessary.
Justice organisations have agreed a Joint National Protocol that sets out the procedure for conducting court hearings by video link and provides information on solicitor consultations with clients by VC.
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