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Axon to deliver Scotland’s digital evidence system

19/10/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Scottish Government has signed a £10 million contract Axon Public Safety to deliver the Digital Evidence Sharing Capability (DESC) service to support the country’s criminal justice system.

Scales of justice against Scottish flag

It will involve the development and management of a system to handle evidence including documents, video, images and audio, integrating into crime and case management systems.

According to the pre-award contract notice its functions will include asset storage, conversion and transcoding, searching and indexing, editing, auditing, support for retention and archive policies and deletion.

A pilot of the system is scheduled to begin in spring 2022.

The Scottish Government said it will transform how evidence is collected, managed and shared, providing access to police officers, lawyers and court staff, and allow for earlier consideration and disclosure of evidence. This could significantly reduce the number of trials and the associated costs.

Improving the experience

Justice Secretary Keith Brown said: "This is an important step in improving the experience of victims and witnesses in the criminal justice process.

“It will make a real difference to the time taken for cases to come to court, allowing those involved in criminal cases to move on with their lives sooner.

"Earlier resolution of cases is just one of the benefits this programme will bring. We are also putting in place a modern, forward looking platform that can be used as the basis for further transformation.”

DESC lead for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) Andrew Laing said: “Sharing of evidence has become more complicated in recent years as digital information is often held in a myriad of formats.

“The DESC service will allow COPFS to more easily access evidence gathered by the police and share it with the accused and their defence quicker and more efficiently.”

Controlling access

The Scottish Government added that all digital evidence will only be accessible by approved personnel, such as police officers, fiscal staff and defence agents, and that access to the information will be fully audited and monitored.

The data will be held in secure and approved facilities with the necessary certifications for the storage and access of evidential material.

DESC is a collaboration between the Scottish Government, Police Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, and the defence community.

Image from iStock, sezer ozger

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