CCP Nick Hawkins explains moves towards a digital prosecution service, following start of paperless trial


Wessex CCP statement on digital working and the CPS

The case of Rajvinder Kaur charged with the murder of her mother-in-law has started at Winchester Crown Court. This is our firts paperless trial in a murder case.

Nick Hawkins, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in Wessex, said: "The case of Rajvinder Kaur charged with murder started yesterday and people who attended the trial at Winchester Crown Court may have noticed that this is a paperless trial, which means that the evidence is presented to the jurors, defence and the judge on screen and our lawyer in court is prosecuting the case from a laptop. This is the second case prosecuted this way in the Crown Court, and also the first murder trial to be dealt with this way.

"We are also routinely prosecuting trials in the Magistrates Court on the Isle of Wight using from a tablet device.

"By April 2012, Wessex Crown Prosecution Service (Dorset, Hampshire Isle of Wight, and Wiltshire) will become almost entirely paperless and the CPS nationally will be working almost fully digitally across England and Wales. This dramatic move shows our commitment to cut down massively on bureaucracy and ineffective ways of working.

"Working digitally means that the whole criminal justice process can be speeded up substantially resulting into shorter trials, with our victims and witnesses being informed about their cases much quicker as information is sent electronically straight after the court hearing without the need for the file to be sent back to the office.

"The electronic case file will replace the hard copy file and the case will be emailed to the police, court and defence counsel through secure emails. This will stop our reliance on paper and the risk for those papers of being lost as hard copy case file need to be copied three times for the use of the police, defence counsel and court.

"All these changes are already happening here. Locally, we have been working very closely with our criminal justice partners, such as the courts in Dorset, Hampshire and Isle of Wight and Wiltshire and the three police forces covering these counties to meet our 2012 deadline.  We have also received support from Judges, Magistrates and defence lawyers who can see the benefits of digital working.

"We are exchanging information electronically with the police and this information is further sent electronically to the court and the defence.  There is almost no printing involved and the whole criminal justice system can save a huge amount of money.

"Ultimately these changes are about working in a modern and efficient way, so that we can continue to provide a high quality prosecution service on behalf of our communities."