ONE: Introduction: Why We Need to Rethink Approaches to Open Justice in the Criminal Courts

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This first chapter introduces the book’s focal theme: the principle and practice of open justice in criminal courts in what is often characterised as the ‘digital age’. That is, the way in which court hearings and information about cases are made publicly accessible in the context of digital and technological advances in the 21st century, and the relationship to principles of transparency, access to justice and accountability.

The authors introduce recent developments in open justice policy and technology in England and Wales that raise, they contend, neglected practical and ideological issues relating to access to justice, individuals’ privacy, and public access to information.

As well as setting out the authors’ methodological approach and the core themes of participatory accountability and transparency, the chapter explains why the book pays particular attention to the functioning and scrutiny of the Magistrates’ courts within the criminal justice system.

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