Wi-Fi in Courts - 2015 Update

An efficient Wi-Fi service in courts is a facility that all Solicitors and Barristers dream of. The majority of Crown and Combined courts across England and Wales now have working Wi-Fi, but how good is it really?

06 February 2015  Working from home

An efficient Wi-Fi service in courts is a facility that all Solicitors and Barristers dream of. The majority of Crown and Combined courts across England and Wales now have working Wi-Fi, but how good is it really?

PCU (Professional Court User) Wi-Fi has been rolled out in magistrates and at criminal courts throughout England and Wales since January 2015, with all 302 sites equipped by October 2015 .

This earlier delivery date puts the government in a good position for its ambition to have all criminal courts working digitally by July 2016.

However this service has its limitations. The PCU Wi-Fi system is operated and serviced by BT through agreement with HMCTS, the service is for all court professionals but not all court professionals will be able to access the Wi-Fi at all sites immediately and there are two methods of access to the service.

Wi-Fi access via registration for a password

This first access applies to professionals whose devices do not connect to a secure government network in order to work. Devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones.

These predominantly Defence practitioners will require a one-time register for a password that they will use in alliance with a username in order to gain access to the PCU Wi-Fi each time they attend court. One-time registration for a password must be done in advance of attending court. All such users must have a valid and active personal Criminal Justice Secure Email Account (CJSM) in order to register.

The application process is as follows:

Using your Criminal Justice Secure Mail (CJSM) account, please email the following information to the address pcu.wifi@bt.cjsm.net

  • Your name

  • An internet accessible e-mail address, which will become your username for the service.  NOTE that this should be a regular e-mail address eg your Chambers normal email address NOT your CJSM address.

  • A phone/mobile number in case we need to contact you

Wi-Fi access without the need for a username and password

This second method applied to those professionals how have devices supplied by a Government department and require access to a secure government network.

Wi-Fi in court does exist and hopefully these new access methods are one step closer to the secure standard we all take for granted in chambers.

The government’s deadline for Wi-Fi in all courtrooms by 2016 will not be met and will hopefully not take the predicted three years to complete. To find out which Magistrates and Crown courts have Wi-Fi facilities installed, clicking here Magistrate's Court PCU Wi-Fi Google Map and the Crown Court PCU Wi-Fi Google

Wi-Fi using tethering

In certain circumstances the Wi-Fi in court will not be strong enough for you to connect to the internet. The good news is that it's possible to use your phone as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, and share its data connection with your laptop.

This setup is called tethering or internet sharing, and many smartphones provide this feature, including iPhones, BlackBerrys, Windows Phones and, of course Android handsets.

Regardless of the connection method, it's important to check whether your mobile tariff allows tethering before using your smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. In some cases, the mobile operator can prevent the option from appearing on your handset if tethering isn't part of the deal (iPhone owners will notice that Personal Hotspot simply doesn't show up in the General settings menu, for example).

In other cases, it's physically possible to set up tethering but if it's disallowed on your tariff you could find yourself with a warning or even being cut off for breaking the rules. Some operators are more lenient than others, but always check with your provider if you're not sure.

How to tether your phone

On your phone go to Settings > More > Wireless & networks and then Tethering, Portable Hotspot or Mobile networking sharing or similar. The exact menu names can vary slightly phone depending on your make and model, but if you can get to the wireless settings section, that's generally where you need to be.

Tethering Instruction for different makes of phone;

What is your experience of Wi-Fi in the Courts?

If you are regularly in court and have any feedback on the Wi-Fi services or have found better alternatives please let us know and we can share this with others in a later newsletter issue.

Tags  bt courts tethering

Corrections or suggestions