The Scottish Government has launched a £33 million initiative for police, courts and lawyers to share digital evidence for criminal trials.
It said that a pilot of the Digital Evidence Sharing Capability (DESC) has begun recently in Dundee, with approved prosecutors, defence lawyers, police officers and court staff having access to the system. This is initially for Summary cases only but it will be expanded to the more serious Solemn procedures at a later stage.
A national roll out is planned for later this year.
DESC handles evidence including CCTV footage, photographs and data and other materials from computers and mobile devices. There are plans to expand this to include documents and recordings of police interviews.
Members of the public and businesses will be able to submit digital evidence, such as material recorded on their phones, by email when sent a link by a police officer.
The Scottish Government said that benefits of the system will include the quicker resolution of cases, reducing the impact on victims and witnesses and reducing workloads on police officers. It will also reduce the need to transport physical evidence.
The programme is a collaboration between the Scottish Government, Police Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, the Scottish Police Authority and the defence community. Axon is the software provider.
Justice Secretary Keith Brown said: "This is a significant milestone in our overhaul of how evidence is managed through Scotland's justice system.
"From crime scene to courtroom, DESC will allow victims and others involved in criminal cases to move on with their lives sooner and free up officers' time to focus more on frontline policing.
"No other country in the world has invested in a digital evidence solution which serves each part of the criminal justice system equally.
“The Scottish Government has invested £33 million in this innovative, secure and environmentally sustainable project, which also highlights the successful collaboration of justice partners. Already the pilot - which began in January - is proving extremely successful, with 600 cases handled and a guilty plea in a case involving digital evidence."