Magistrates are concerned that using remote links encourages defendants to show a lack of respect to the court.
A poll of 865 magistrates by the Magistrates Association, assisted by legal charity Transform Justice, showed that audio and video links negatively affected communication and participation, especially for vulnerable court users.
Magistrates expressed concern that defendants and witnesses who attended court remotely took the process less seriously. One complained that defendants had appeared on remote link whilst in the bath, semi-naked or smoking.
Asked whether remote links should be used as extensively as they were during the pandemic, 76% of 853 magistrates were opposed.
One respondent said that most days they have technical problems and time is wasted while connections are made, often forcing people to retire whilst everyone gets back online.
Remote links made it more difficult for 62% of 828 magistrates to identify hidden disabilities.
The report’s recommendations include more reliable technology, and extra data on the impact of remote technology in criminal proceedings.