Inspectors welcome progress made on juror management by Courts Service
Efforts by the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service (NICTS) to improve how jurors are utilised within the criminal justice system, have been praised by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) in an independent review published today.
The follow-up review found five of the eight recommendations made by the Inspectorate in 2010 had been achieved by the NICTS, with a further two recommendations partially achieved.
"The recommendations made by Inspectors three years ago were designed to strengthen existing arrangements and support the Court Service - now the Courts and Tribunals Service - in its efforts to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the management and administration of jury service," said Brendan McGuigan, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.
"We welcome the work that has been undertaken to date to ensure those citizens called upon to act as jurors are respected and their time used effectively to improve the efficiency of the Courts throughout Northern Ireland.
"The NICTS monitors the number of juror notices and summonses issued and a target for the number of jurors 'not used' between September 2011-12 was set at 15%. This figure was exceeded and as a result, the NICTS is considering reducing the 'not used' target to 12%."
Mr McGuigan indicated the introduction of operational guidelines on the application of juror deferrals and excusals had facilitated a more consistent approach across all court areas in Northern Ireland.
Inspectors also welcomed the steps taken by the NICTS to provide information to employers around the obligations of employees engaged in jury service, and ongoing work to reduce the amount of hard copy information sent to prospective jurors.
"We support the work undertaken by the NICTS to assess and improve the accessibility of its court venues to enable disabled people to play a full part in jury service. We would encourage the organisation to continue with its work to date and make further improvements where possible," said the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice.
In conclusion Mr McGuigan said: "I would commend the NICTS for the progress it has made in implementing the inspection recommendations and I welcome its ongoing commitment to improved customer service and juror management."