Courts free (and digitize) our data

Yesterday the Press Gazette reported on Home Office plans to provide a database containing the results of criminal court proceedings, and make it freely available online.

A laudible gesture, and something we will all benefit from.  But earlier in the piece it was mentioned that newspapers now have free access to magistrate court lists, and can now publish freely too – which got me thinking.

Just how do journalists actually get their hands on court reports – is there an online service for newspapers to subscribe to etc.?  A quick call to the Press Office at the MoJ set me straight.

To acquire a court report (now free!), you need to actually go to the court in question and enquire. And apparently, this service is also open to the public – so any budding citizen journalists out there can also get their hands on them.

Here’s the press notice about the proposed system.

Lets just hope they release the data via an API, then we can avoid the sort of one-dimensional service the Met are fobbing us off with with their ‘crime map’.

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