Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice visits Wessex CPS to see progress on Digital Working

14/12/2011

Nick Herbert, Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice visits Wessex CPS to see progress on Digital working.

"Our aim is that the communities of Dorset, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Wiltshire see us, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Wessex as a modern prosecution service, which listens to their concerns and acts upon them," said Nick Hawkins, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Wessex to Nick Herbert, the Police and Justice Minister.

Mr Herbert visited the Wessex CPS headquarters to see the progress on digital working that has been made so far by the CPS and its local criminal justice partners.

By April 2012, criminal justice agencies in Wessex, which is comprised of Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and Wiltshire, will be working extensively through digital means.

The digital transformation of the criminal justice system is one of the key features of the CJS Efficiency Programme. The programme has two workstreams: Streamlined Digital Working and Video technology.

Representatives from Wessex CPS, HM Courts and Tribunals Service and the police demonstrated to Mr Herbert how information is exchanged electronically between the police, CPS and the courts. They also discussed how prosecutors intend progressively to use tablet devices to present their cases and operate in a paperless office environment.

Mr Hawkins said: "We are working hard with our local partners: the police, the courts, the judiciary, Magistrates and barristers on the Western Circuit and our local defence solicitors to improve the experience of those who are going through the criminal justice system and to make that system more efficient.

"From April 2012, we will have ditched paper files and we will be working digitally with our local criminal justice partners.

"But what does this mean for our communities?

"It means that we are cutting down massively on bureaucracy. This is how it works. The police are now sending us digitally, information such as case material or charging advice by using a two-way case management system allowing both us and the Police to exchange information through the same electronic system.

"The electronic case file then replaces the current hard copy. Instead of being printed for the defence and the court and bundled manually, it is being bundled digitally into one document, which is then emailed to all parties involved.

"At court prosecutors are going to prosecute cases from a tablet device. This is happening in the Isle of Wight where our prosecutors are using tablet devices for prosecuting cases that can only be tried at magistrates' court.

"In Crown Court cases, evidence will be presented electronically to the Judge and defence counsel. Jurors, instead of reading a bundle of paper, will share a TV screen showing the evidence being presented.

"It will speed up substantially the process for victims and witnesses who are at the heart of what we do.  These changes are not however, just about prosecutors using fancy computers in court.

It is about providing a high quality service to our communities, making sure that lost papers and unnecessary delays at court that could have been prevented by working digitally are behind us.

"We are glad that today we have been able to show the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice Nick Herbert, that we are heading at a fast pace towards our April 2012 deadline."

Quote from Nick Herbert

Policing and Justice Minister Nick Herbert said:

"Using digital technology such as PC tablet devices in prosecutions helps ensure speedy and effective justice.
Wessex is an excellent example of our wider ambition to streamline the criminal justice system and make it more efficient.

We are working closely with agencies across the country to digitise the entire criminal justice system."

END