The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has launched a pilot to text witnesses reminding them to attend court. It is widely recognised that the non-attendance of witnesses is a major contributory factor in the adjournment of court proceedings. The pilot seeks to address this issue by sending direct reminders to witnesses with the aim of improving court efficiency.
Text reminders will be sent to civilian and professional (expert) witnesses who are due to give evidence in Sheriff Summary Trials. Police officers and child witnesses are excluded. The pilot will run at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for an initial 4 month period and text messages will be sent to Crown witnesses 3 – 4 days prior to the date of the trial reminding them of the date they are due to attend court.
No personal data is provided in the text and an example is, “You must attend as a witness at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at 09:45 on 01/02/2012. Do not reply by text. For info call the PF 01389 739557 with ref ED18000021.”
Whether this pilot will be successful in securing the attendance of absent-minded or reluctant witnesses remains to be seen. However, it is clear that the continued adjournment of cases caused by non-attendance of witnesses puts considerable strain on the already groaning Scottish criminal justice system.
On January 31, 2012