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Hyperlocal publisher launches new court list service for journalists

A hyperlocal publisher is launching a pioneering project which will enable journalists to search for all cases in magistrates courts across England and Wales.

Caerphilly Observer publisher Caerphilly Media Ltd’s new service The Court List aims to make it easy for journalists to look up case details by building a live, searchable database of cases from across the two countries.

A prototype is on course to be ready for testing next month after Caerphilly Media received funding from Clwstwr – A five-year programme to create new products, services and experiences for the screen industries based in Wales.

Company director Richard Gurner is now seeking other publishers interested in testing the service.

Caerphilly Media's software developer Levi Harris-Browning, left, and Caerphilly Observer editor and publisher Richard Gurner

Caerphilly Media’s software developer Levi Harris-Browning, left, and Caerphilly Observer editor and publisher Richard Gurner

He said: “As a working journalist I have found the current system of getting court case details problematic and time-consuming.

“Checking the details of a defendant can often take minutes, rather than seconds – add that up over the course of a year and hours and days are wasted wading through court documents.

“Stories of high public interest importance can also often be missed.

“With court closures and admin centralised, the PDF documents that come through are often around 100 pages long. I thought there must be an easier way. More than two years later, and a lot of hard work from our dedicated team, we are almost there with a prototype.

“We’re looking for media groups to partner with for testing and to refine what should be a revolutionary tool for journalists.”

As well as looking up individual court appearances, The Court List will eventually have several different features to help reporters keep tabs on cases they are interested in, such as alerts and diary functions, as well as the ability to learn the type of stories that could be of interest to journalists and the wider public.

Clwstwr director Professor Justin Lewis said: “We have been delighted to see Richard and the team identify and pursue a real opportunity to create a new service that will benefit the entire UK news industry.

“The fact that this innovation has been developed by a small team from South Wales demonstrates the creativity and ambition within our media cluster, and exemplifies Clwstwr’s drive to make South Wales a centre of media innovation.”

A survey of journalists discussing their court reporting needs is being conducted as part of the project, and interested parties can take part here.

Publishers interested in trialling the service should email [email protected].