Caerphilly Media, an independent newspaper publisher in South Wales is building a live, searchable, database of every case heard in magistrates’ courts in England and Wales. Reports Journalism.co.uk
The Court List can be used as a search engine to look up a defendant’s name, and court reporters will also be able to select a specific court to find out who attended or will be attending on any given date.
“In its simplest form, journalists can use it to look up court hearing information for cases heard and cases upcoming,” says Caerphilly Observer editor Richard Gurner in an email to Journalism.co.uk.
“This will make it far easier for journalists to access this data. Currently, it is in the form of PDF documents sent out by the courts, which can be difficult to search, and stories of high public interest can often be missed.”
With fewer courts owing to closures and admin centralised, the PDFs are often around 100 pages long. Gurner set out to find a solution.
More than two years later, a prototype of the database will be going live in August.
The publisher was able to finance the project through funding from Clwstwr, a five-year programme to create new products, services and experiences for the screen industry in South Wales, and Google’s Digital News Innovation (DNI) Fund.
Once the database is up and running, the Caerphilly Media team intend to add Crown Court data and case information from Scotland.
“We’re looking for media groups to partner with for testing and to refine what should be a revolutionary tool for journalists,” says Gruner in a press release.
As well as enabling users to look up court appearances, The Court List will eventually help reporters keep tabs on cases, with features such as alerts and diary functions, and identify stories of particular interest to journalists and the wider public.