Courts’ SMS trial expanded statewide

Adult defendants on bail around Queensland will now receive an SMS reminder 24 hours before their next court appearance as part of a regional pilot project that has been expanded statewide.

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the text appointment reminder, similar to those issued by many businesses, was designed to save court time and costs by encouraging a greater attendance rate at court.

“It is a significant inconvenience for the courts and all the parties involved in a matter when a defendant fails to attend court,” she said.

“The pilot was initiated to try to reduce the number of Fail to Appear warrants, which may be issued immediately upon a defendant not turning up to court.

“The pilot program started in the Mackay Magistrates Court in June 2016 and was evaluated by the University of Queensland (UQ).

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“The results of the pilot, alongside promising findings from other Australian and international jurisdictions where SMS reminders have been used, were positive enough to suggest that the trial be expanded statewide.”

Evidence from the pilot evaluation suggested that court attendance rates vary depending on the type of message sent. UQ recommended that a range of messages should be tested to determine the optimal SMS message for improving court attendance rates when the pilot is expanded statewide. There will be four differently-worded messages trialled through the expanded pilot.

The statewide rollout with the new messages will begin today.

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