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A report has been published today that shows an increase in cases being brought to the Courts while also outlining progress that has been made in the modernisation of services and cutbacks in resources.

The Annual Report of the Courts Service highlights areas where the sector has made major savings throughout 2010 including the Criminal Justice Interoperability Project which has resulted in the reduction of administration at District Court level by 75 percent. This is turn has freed up the equivalent of 105 full time staff, 100 Gardaí and 5 courts staff.

The Service has seen a cutback in funding of €30.5m in the last three years which takes both pay and non pay elements into account. It also reports that there has been an overall reduction in the number of staff by nine percent. Meanwhile, the Service has witnessed an increase of 40 percent in court business for the period of between 2006 and 2010.

Use of ICT

Investment in ICT has been cited as a main contributing factor in cost reduction with services in place such as video conferencing and digital audio recording of court proceedings. More efficient, electronic transfer of information between the Courts Service and An Garda Síochána has led to savings. The Service also began co-locating the storage of secure data with the Revenue Commissioners.

Commenting on the report the CEO of the Court’s Service Brendan Ryan said that it continues to provide a “commendable service notwithstanding ongoing reductions in staff numbers, further significant reductions in the budget allocation and an increased workload”.

Meanwhile the Chief Justice warned that continued reductions in budget could have “adverse implications” on the Service. , Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, TD recognised this and congratulated the progress that has been made “in a period of increased demand for court services while operating with reduced resources.”

The Minister continued by saying “I  recognise  the  great  strides  that  the  Courts  Service  has taken to modernise  its  services,  which  are  so  vital  to  the administration of justice”.