Prison video links, video hearings and procedural justice: Case studies from Australia and England

Dr Carolyn McKay1

1University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Programs of court digitisation are transforming criminal procedure as well as modes of delivering and accessing justice. For instance, a £1.2bn court digitisation program is being undertaken in England and Wales that is significantly increasing the use of digital and video technologies.  At the same time, physical courthouses are rapidly facing closure and obsolescence. Throughout Australia, too, criminal procedure is increasingly shifting to virtual and de-spatialised models.

This paper will present findings from new research conducted in both Australia and England. Drawing on an evolving database of Australian and English case law regarding audio visual links (AVL), this paper will examine judicial comments regarding both positive and negative elements of AVL including: how AVL impacts assessments of credibility or demeanour; AVL and perceptions of prejudice and measures to diminish unfairness; how AVL may solve courtroom intimidation yet challenge the principle of confrontation; how communication by AVL is affected especially with people suffering mental health or cognitive issues. In this way, the paper will present new knowledge regarding the implications of digital technologies on the administration of justice, access to justice and procedural justice.


Dr Carolyn McKay is a Lecturer at the University of Sydney Law School where she teaches Criminal Law and Civil & Criminal Procedure. In 2020 she will present a new digital criminology elective that connects with her primary research focus on technologies in justice. Stemming from her empirical prison research, in 2018 she published her first research monograph The Pixelated Prisoner (Routledge). In addition, Carolyn has found an intersection between visual criminological research and her visual arts practice that is made manifest in her significant non traditional research outputs including curatorial and exhibition roles.

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