Ministry of Justice to automate systems with BT

In a lucrative three-year, multi-million pound contract, BT and Eckoh have partnered up with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to supply a number of automated services.

BT and Eckoh, a provider of hosted speech recognition services, will provide the MoJ with an automated fine payment service for Magistrates' Courts in England and Wales.

Managing director at BT Public Sector Mark Quartermaine said: "Once considered an experimental technology, automated speech recognition is now robustly allowing organisations to cut costs and inefficiencies whilst responding to the citizen's need to be able to conduct business with Government quickly, easily and at a time convenient to them."

They will also supply the live tract centre operation to support the automated service, providing the Courts with a complete end-to-end telephony solution.

The service will be hosted on BT and Eckoh's call processing platform, which is capable of handling over 650,000 calls an hour and 8,000 callers concurrently. The scalability and resilience of the platform will ensure that callers will always be connected immediately.

The automated fine payment service was first introduced by BT and Eckoh in 2004 and is currently in place across a third of Courts networks. The new agreement will see the service being rolled out nationally over the next 12 months.

The service allows citizens to pay fines 24 hours a day and has already seen a 15 per cent rise in the number of fines being paid out of office hours for one Court already using it, but which can not be disclosed.

The new system will also enable Courts to considerably lower the cost of collecting the fines.

The current service processes an average of 278,000 fine payments a year. There are plans to extend the scope of the service for the payment of fixed penalty notices, including speeding offences and other on-the-spot charges that would see the volume of transactions significantly increase further.