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National award for pioneering Herts project to text court date reminders to defendants

A project pioneered in Hertfordshire which sends a text message to defendants to remind them about upcoming court appearances has won a national award.

The scheme was started by the county’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to save police and courts time and money.

Around a fifth of first-appearance court cases were delayed as the accused had failed to show up.

David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire
David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire

The execution of additional arrest warrants added to police costs and used up officers’ time while they searched for and arrested the defendant, held them in custody and then arranged for them to attend court.

The process of sending a text in addition to a letter has now been adopted as standard practice in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire using a free government system.

Now the scheme has just won the Effective Court Hearings award at the National Police Chiefs Council conference in Birmingham.

David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, said: “This is a great example of how a simple change is saving thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money every month and leading to swifter justice for victims.”

Ian Butler, head of administration of justice, said: “The text the defendant is a great service, working much like a doctor or dentist appointment reminder would.”

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