Wales leading the way with plans for digital prosecution


In an address to Cardiff Magistrates’ Association and the Law Society, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has explained how the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Wales is leading the way with bold plans to introduce digital working to the Criminal Justice System.

Mr Starmer said: "Reductions in our budgets have caused all organisations in the Criminal Justice System to pause and think seriously about how we can work together to improve efficiency.

"All of us face the same challenges of delivering a quality service within the new financial context. It is clear that we need to be radical in our outlook and this has led to our ambition to make the CPS a truly digital organisation."

CPS Cymru-Wales Area is leading the way as one of the pilot areas for the new ways of working. At a national level, the CPS plans to be working predominantly as a digital organisation by April 2012. By that date, the Service intends to be in a position to:

  • Receive the bulk of information from the police digitally
  • Use digital case files as the main information source
  • Serve information to courts, defence firms and other partners electronically
  • Prosecute cases in court from laptops
  • Present evidence in court electronically
  • Provide a paperless Witness Care service 

Mr Starmer said: "Wales was chosen as one of the test areas for digital working, because it is really here in Wales where the earliest steps had already been taken.

"For example, it is in Wales where information was first sent to a court electronically, having been received from the police in that format. And it is in Wales where a prosecutor first demonstrated that it was possible to conduct a case in court from a laptop rather than using a paper file.

"These are exciting times for the CPS and the Criminal Justice System in general and I will follow the progress of this work in Wales with great interest."

Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Cymru-Wales, Jim Brisbane, added: "I'm pleased that the CPS in Wales is seen as having really grasped the nettle in terms of digital working.

"We've estimated that, in Wales, our current processes generate well over 2 million sheets of paper in case files each year.  You just need to think of the geography of Wales to realise that moving all that paper around the system creates a phenomenal administrative burden and increases inefficiency and duplication.

"Working digitally is increasingly allowing us to have much less complex processes, making it quicker and easier for us to process the information that accompanies each case we handle and, ultimately, saving us valuable resources.

"We are confident that, working in close collaboration with all our partners in the Criminal Justice System, we are making changes that will have a lasting positive impact on the services we provide to the public."