102 Petty France
020 3334 2567 E
Our Ref: FOI/67061/10
6th October 2010
Dear Ms Townend
Re: Freedom of Information Request
Thank you for your emails of 8th September 2010 in which you asked a variety of
questions regarding the ‘You be the Judge’ website, and HMCS plans to publish
courts data online, from the Ministry of Justice.
Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
We have aggregated your requests in line with section 12(4).
I can confirm that the Department does hold information relating to your request.
However, unfortunately I am unable to process it. I have estimated that it would take
one person approximately 173 hours in total to gather the information. Section 12(1)
of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) does not oblige a public authority to
comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of
complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit. The appropriate limit
for Central Government is set at £600, which represents one person spending 3.5
working days in locating, extracting and collating the requested information.
Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to narrow the frame of
However, outside the scope of the act, on a discretionary basis, I can provide the
following information: 1) How much money was spent on the You Be the Judge website from its
creation until September 7, 2010? http://ybtj.cjsonline.gov.uk/
£56,403.60 (excl. VAT). This cost covers the cost of producing four separate
interactive scenarios in order to demystify sentencing and better explain a complex
and technical subject to members of the public. For each scenario this involved
casting, scripting, filming, photography and preparation of material for online delivery. 2) Where possible, please break down these costs out by function (for
example, development, content, design, updates, changes, hosting, co-
location, domain registration, licensing etc)?
The coding and technical build of the interactive guide was
carried out by internal web resources who were
simultaneously working on other activities.
The content was spread across four separate scenarios and
comprised scripting and video production for each. This cost
is as stated in answer to question 1 above.
The design of the interactive guide was carried out by internal
web resources who were simultaneously working on other
Updates were handled by internal resources (as above).
Changes were also handled by internal resources (as above).
Hosting the guides incurred no additional costs over and
above the existing Ministry of Justice arrangements
No costs incurred
Domain registration incurred no additional costs over and
above the existing Ministry of Justice arrangements
The interactive guides were not subject to licensing charges.
3) Was the work outsourced to an external company? If so, which company
and how long is its contract with the Ministry of Justice?
Scriptwriting, filming and editing were outsourced to Speakeasy, a specialist video
production company, following a competitive tender process. The contract was for
this project only and has now been closed. 4) In 2007, it was reported by Press Gazette that there were discussions for an
online media database of court orders and the Ministry of Justice was in
discussion with the Society of Editors over this. In 2010, it was reported on
Malcolm Coles' blog that the Ministry of Justice confirmed plans were ongoing.
What stage is the development of this database at, and what are the estimated
costs? Who would pay for the database?
HMCS has been in discussions with representatives of the media, co-ordinated by
the Society of Editors, to explore the possibility of developing a database of reporting
restrictions. However, there are currently no plans to develop such a database as we
have been unable to satisfactorily resolve a number of key issues. These include:
Finding the right level of information that will support journalists needs but not
make the information protected by the reporting restriction public;
Managing the risk to individual/s protected by the reporting restrictions if the
data were available in the public domain;
How to control access to those with a right and need to access it;
The level of security that would have to be placed onto the IT infrastructure
that would be used to host the sensitive information;
How it would be paid for.
As an agreed specification for any database has not been developed there are
currently no cost estimates available.
In the meantime the existing processes for media wishing to check whether a
reporting restriction applies in a particular case remain in place. Firstly, the reporter
can always contact/visit the court where the case is being/was heard and the court
will provide any copies of reporting restrictions. If they are uncertain that the person
is a journalist they would ask for press card or email showing a press email address.
5) I would like to know about HCMS plans to publish courts data online. I am
aware some parts of Her Majesty's Courts data is already available online. Has
the Ministry of Justice considered making additional court case details
available online, for example (but not exclusively): case type, date of grant or
discharge of any interim injunction, statements of case, skeleton arguments
for hearings, any publication restrictions, date of next hearing. If so, for which
courts? Please could I see documentation and communication surrounding
such plans, from 2008-10?
The Ministry of Justice will be publishing court level sentencing outcomes as part of
the annual National Statistics publication “Criminal Statistics England and Wales”
from October 2010. Information will be displayed at individual petty sessional area,
providing aggregated offence level data. This will be able to be viewed on the
Ministry of Justice web site.
Case specific information is available at a number of existing websites including:
As part of our obligations under the FOIA, the Ministry of Justice has an independent
review process. If you are dissatisfied with this decision, you may write to request an
internal review. The internal review will be carried out by someone who did not make
the original decision, and they will re-assess how the Department handled the
If you wish to request an internal review, please write or send an email to the Data
Access and Compliance Unit within two months of the date of this letter, at the
Data Access and Compliance Unit
Ministry of Justice
Postal point 6.25
102 Petty France
If you remain dissatisfied after an internal review decision, you have the right to apply
to the Information Commissioner’s Office under Section 50 of the FOIA. You can
contact the Information Commissioner’s Office at the following address:
Information Commissioner’s Office
Yours sincerely Neil Carne
Court Modernisation Juliet Lopez-Real
Criminal Justice Reform