Justice on the move

Interested in access to justice? You bet. I’m not talking here about the withdrawal of legal aid though I urge you to follow #savukjustice and sign the petition if you have not already done so.

What I’m referring to is the migration of content from the Justice website to GOV.UK. We’d just got used to the new Justice portal when GOV.UK came along and said “We’re it, the new single domain for government information.”

According to the Justice home page “The Ministry of Justice has now moved its content to GOV.UK.” But what does this mean? I recently had a meet with the good folks at the Government Digital Service who explained the general plan. MoJ corporate information has already migrated to the Inside Government section of GOV.UK; the corporate information for the dozens of its agencies will be migrated to GOV.UK over the next year (target completion April 2014); and the specialist information and tools will migrate over time in a manner yet to be determined (ie specialist consideration required for each).

There is an awful lot of the latter on Justice – rules, forms, courtfinder etc, so I asked the people that should know at MoJ Digital Services to explain how and when the corporate information, specialist information and tools currently on Justice will migrate to GOV.UK. Thanks to Graham Lee for the response:

The Justice website contains a whole host of information and tools for those who work in and around the justice system.

News and policy information from the site was moved over to GOV.UK in April.

The next step will be to move over the ‘specialist’ tools and information for professionals and practitioners, such as lawyers.

This includes everything from training materials for youth offending teams to guidance for coroners.

The aim is to get this on the new site by early 2014.

As we said in our digital strategy, we’ll be using this as an opportunity to rework, rewrite and improve the content wherever possible:

“As with the mainstream content, we will not automatically move all specialist content on the justice.gov.uk website to GOV.UK. We will ensure that it is rewritten and repurposed to meet clearly identified user needs and presented in user-friendly formats.”

This will be a big challenge given that the content is generally more complex than information for the general public.

However, we know that professional users are often busy and have to find what they need quickly.

Some of the information will also have to be made more accessible for non-professionals, like those who represent themselves in court hearings or at a tribunal.

With things that can’t be rewritten – as with court procedure rules and instructions for prison officers – we may be able to make it easier for users to search and navigate their way through the content.

Developers are starting to redevelop some of the tools on the site, such as the court finder, but there’s still a lot to do.

We’ve met with most of our agencies and arm’s-length bodies to outline our approach, and had some useful initial feedback from outside organisations (eg at an Administrative Justice Advisory Group meeting).

However, we’d love to know what you think. What guidance or tools do you use on the Justice site? What do you find most useful, and most frustrating? Where can we make improvements?

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