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Digital business plan takes justice in to 'Wi-Fi age'



A decade on from the Labour government's £2bn Criminal Justice IT programme, the Ministry of Justice has published a strategy setting out a similar end-point - a fully joined up police, courts and offenders IT system.

Justice minister Damian Green said this week that, under the Criminal Justice System Digital Business Model, police officers will collect evidence at the scenes of crimes electronically on mobile devices and begin building case files on the beat.

Meanwhile, every magistrates' court in England and Wales will operate completely digitally, with increased use of remote video links. Written evidence and legal submissions will be stored securely centrally and accessed by magistrates and legal teams on digital devices, using Wi-Fi connections.

All criminal courts will be able to operate 'completely digitally' by July 2016.

The programme will be funded with the new allocation of £75m a year for courts modernisation announced last month. This is in addition to £44m already provided for the provision of new IT, the Ministry of Justice said.

Green said: "I want to see a criminal justice system where information is captured once by a police officer responding to a crime and then flows through the system to the court stage without duplication or reworking.Many forces are already using digital technology like body-worn video, which can be used to collect compelling evidence at the scene of crimes."

He said the digital business model will link together the different agencies which make up the criminal justice system - including the police, HM Courts & Tribunal Service and Crown Prosecution Service. "It will build on the success of the Criminal Justice Strategy and Action Plan published last summer."

The Digital Business Model includes 10 principles for how criminal justice agencies will jointly undertake digital reform and transformation in the future. They include:

  • Committing to a unified criminal justice system: "New business processes and ways of working will, wherever possible, be consistent and work across all CJS agencies."
  • Digital By Default: "Customers and the general public should have the option to interact with CJS agencies using the channel of choice. Where that is digital the channel should be as easy to use as possible."
  • Shared data: "Future projects will be based around access to shared data, with the aim of having shared systems (where appropriate) where people can access the information they need (and are entitled to see) when they need it instead of sending data to each other."
  • Agile methodology: "New projects must bring around visible and tangible change using agile development techniques to deliver benefits as early and effectively as possible."
  • Open standards: "All CJS agencies and future reform projects should utilise shared open standards to facilitate one joined up and transparent criminal justice system where information is readily available to third parties and integration and interoperability is the norm."

Picture: iStockphoto/zimmytws


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