People and processesCaroline Sheppard OBE and Louise Hutchinson, Traffic Penalty Tribunal

Caroline Sheppard OBE and Louise Hutchinson, Traffic Penalty Tribunal

Caroline Sheppard OBE and Louise Hutchinson, Traffic Penalty Tribunal

The team at PATROL and the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) nominate Caroline Sheppard OBE and Louise Hutchinson jointly as Female GovTech Leaders for their astounding achievements in turning TPT into an exemplar of digital by default with a ripple effect of change on 310 local authorities.

Caroline began her legal career as a barrister was the first Chief Adjudicator in London in 1992, becoming Chief Adjudicator of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT) in 1999, so she has 25 years’ experience of parking and bus lane adjudication. She and her team of 30 lawyers comprise the tribunal that decides parking and bus lane appeals from approximately 300 councils in England and Wales in the civil enforcement scheme.

Louise Hutchinson has been director of PATROL since 2006.

PATROL represents 310 local authorities in England (outside Wales). PATROL’s primary function is to make provision for independent adjudication for appeals against enforcement penalties. This is delivered through the Traffic Penalty Tribunal. PATROL is also committed to improving information that assists public understanding of the objectives of civil enforcement as well as the enforcement and appeals process. Prior to joining PATROL, she was director of a voluntary sector organisation delivering services to people with disabilities, bringing that experience of awareness and stakeholder engagement to the tribunal.

A champion of the use of technology for the tribunal’s case management, Caroline has been the passionate spearhead in developing the new award winning TPT on-line appeal system and has steered the Traffic Penalty decisively into the 21st century. This has been made possible by the dedicated support, drive and commitment of PATROL director Louise Hutchinson and her team, who have ensured that Caroline’s dream has been operationalised across the Tribunal and over 300 local authorities within a year of the system launch generating savings in terms of average cost of each appeal not to mention the resource, administration and postage savings effected for the authority teams.

From its modest offices in Wilmslow, Cheshire, TPT constitutes a small and perfectly formed tribunal which constantly astonishes visitors from large government bodies with its largely digital and paper-free functioning. Deriving more from stabilised resourcing levels, Louise and her team have also been able to place increased focus on ensuring that appellants who find it difficult to go online are given extra support from the customer-facing team – providing an Assisted Digital Service.

Caroline is passionate about technology and stresses the need for bodies embarking on significant change to show equal commitment to user-centric process re-design and effective communication.

Crucially, TPT first developed and ran a live, simple prototype end-to-end system with appeals from 30 ‘pathfinder’ councils. The positive impact of digital working was immediate, both in terms of resource savings and user satisfaction. Equally important was that the knowledge of the user experience and savings of the ‘pathfinder’ councils, the positive effect of adjudicator messaging, and the lively engagement by appellants, was harnessed to run workshops for the remaining 280 authorities. This resulted in the project hitting its target for bringing them all into FOAM by April 2017.

Not only has the tribunal service been transformed, but significant savings have been delivered to the 300 councils using the system. Cases are turned around, often the same day, otherwise within two to three weeks.

TPT is now an exemplar of digital by default and has had a far-reaching influence on the way that 300 plus local authorities implement parking appeals management, uniting these authorities on a shared platform without the need for them to buy specific hardware or software.

FOAM only works so well for local authorities because TPT involved them so closely in its design. Brighton & Hove City Council was one of the pathfinder authorities that helped to trial new processes before a more general roll out. It is the insight from Brighton & Hove and from other councils that helped TPT develop new approaches that are agile, iterative and user-centric.

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