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Make a Plea - Service Assessment

The Make a Plea digital service allows people charged with summary motoring offences to respond to the charges against them. The service allows defendants to make their plea online from any internet-enabled device, for example, mobile phone, tablet, computer or laptop. A plea can be made 24 hours a day. The Make a Plea digital service is an alternative to a postal plea or attending court.

Department / Agency:
Ministry of Justice

Date of Assessment:

Assessment stage:

Result of Assessment:
Not pass

Lead Assessor:
C. Mitchell

Service Manager:
N. Gallon

Digital Leader:
M. Coats

Assessment Report

The Make a Plea service is seeking permission to be branded a Live Digital by Default service on the domain.

Outcome of service assessment
After completing our assessment the panel have concluded the Make a Plea service should not be given approval to remove Beta branding and launch on a domain as a Live Digital by Default service.

The Service team is well established and operating in an effective, and agile way. The team’s use of technology, tools and techniques have set them up well to continuously improve the on-screen elements of the service, which they have been doing throughout the beta phase. The majority of users are well understood and their needs are being met.

However, understanding of users that require assistance was less well developed. The team recognised that this was an area that required more work, though they did not clearly articulate a detailed plan for ongoing user research for assisted digital users. Performance data and tracking for assisted digital users was also limited and the team were unable to demonstrate these users were either able to complete the service or satisfied with the support they received.

Since the Digital Service Standard was revised, assessment of assisted digital elements has been spread across a number of different criteria. As a result, shortcomings in the area of assisted digital now result in not pass results across more criteria, reflected in the table below.

For the on-screen elements the standard of the user experience design was good, though the service was not entirely consistent with GOV.UK standards. Whilst thought had been put into improving the 4 KPIs, plans lacked targets, clarity on next steps and ownership. These last 2 points were not currently a serious concern, rather they had fallen short of the standard expected of a fully live digital service and should be addressed before a reassessment.

In addition, the assessment panel were concerned by the inclusion of the non-mandatory fields to collect Driving Licence and National Insurance details, as well as the mandatory nature of providing an email address. It was positive to hear that the service manager has ownership of the on-screen service; the team should be sure that the service is based on user needs rather than business needs. At reassessment the panel would like to hear more about the testing of these elements and how they impact the user journey.

The panel would also advise that the service is used as a beta in more locations before it moves into live. The locations in which it has been used so far indicate that there are likely to be differences in the way the service is used in different geographical locations and it would be helpful for the team to gain assurance, while in beta, that the service will work equally well for these users.


Criteria 1

  • Develop personas for assisted digital users and fully research their needs, so the team can make informed decisions around the provision of assisted digital support. Research should include recruiting appropriate AD users, including those with the lowest levels of digital skills. Research should also include potential users of the digital service (eg those currently choosing to use paper channels) and users requiring support from third party organisations.
  • Review the need to ask users to optionally supply NINO and Driver Number as these are not required to deliver the Make a Plea service

Criteria 2

  • Develop a more detailed ongoing user research plan for assisted digital users to enable iteration of AD support

Criteria 3

  • Identify a more dedicated source of analytics support and identify someone within the team to lead work on assisted digital

Criteria 7

  • Management and responsibility for updates to software, systems and tools should be clarified and formalised, especially during the transition to centralised 2nd line support
  • The cookie policy currently links to the GOV.UK page, which does not reflect the current use of cookies for the service. Cookie policy should be reviewed and a dedicated page should be created

Criteria 11

  • While current support provision is appropriate for the service, the team should review out of hours support as the service scales, to ensure that peak weekend volumes aren’t unduly affected by outages
  • Support processes and responsibilities between the service and central support team should be fully tested

Criteria 12

  • The team was unable to demonstrate that users who need assisted digital support were able to complete the service. It’s also not clear if it’s even possible to do so via the current phone support (the only support route being offered), due to the need for an email address and declaration. The team should review the AD routes provided and fully test all AD routes from all providers. The team should note that relying on support from friends and family is not appropriate.

Criteria 13

  • To address inconsistencies and opportunities in the user experience, the team should review the service against GOV.UK design patterns and styles, then implement changes as required

Criteria 14

  • The ability to track and shift users to the digital channel is constrained by policy and the various police forces that own the paper channels. The team should build on their engagement with policy teams and police forces, to remove some of these constraints

Criteria 15

  • Key metrics around the performance of the AD support (such as satisfaction) are not being captured. The Team should collect performance data for AD users and implement changes to bring the standard of reporting in line with purely digital users
  • As the service rolls out, the team should invest resource so it can use digital analytics and other data sources to investigate user segments and service performance as outlined in the team's roadmap

Criteria 16

  • Although there are constraints around collecting and publishing key performance indicators, the team should formalise plans to improve these metrics by establishing benchmarks, clear responsibility, action plans and targets for each of the 4 KPIs.

Criteria 17

  • Publishing of the cost per transaction metric on the Performance Platform should be prioritised.

Digital by Default Service Standard criteria

Criteria Passed Criteria Passed
1 No 2 No
3 Yes 4 Yes
5 Yes 6 Yes
7 Yes 8 Yes
9 Yes 10 Yes
11 Yes 12 No
13 No 14 Yes
15 No 16 No
17 Yes 18 Yes