Test 31 March, 2017

Connected justice: a single system? (I)

The government has invested in technology to improve the efficiency of criminal court proceedings. The aim is to reduce duplication between criminal justice agencies, eliminate unnecessary attendance at court and remove inefficient paper processes. The objectives are to transform the way the criminal justice system works, to instil public confidence and to deliver improvements to the experience of all participants across the criminal justice system.

The CJS Common Platform Programme is an IT-enabled business change programme. It is a partnership between HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and police, with strong support from the judiciary.

Working closely with people who understand how our businesses operate, the programme is taking a once in a generation opportunity to design, build and embed a single shared process to manage and progress criminal cases, delivering a unified way of working for HMCTS and CPS staff and the wider participants in the criminal case management process. Essential information about crime will be brought together to enable practitioners to access relevant criminal case management information where and when they need to. A new digital system will allow defendants, victims, witnesses and professional users to interact on-line. Only actions that absolutely need to be conducted in the courtroom will be done there.

The programme is developing new ways of working, delivering cost and time savings through:

• robust business processes to support a unified and joined up approach to the justice system;

• consistent and digitised services, which will improve people’s interactions and offer better experience across the business, particularly to victims and witnesses;

•  a single source of data entry, which reduces repeat processing of information; and

• modernised IT automated systems that will provide the opportunity to decommission outdated legacy systems and save maintenance costs.

Some of its products and services are:

• a digital system where all necessary criminal case preparation activities will be completed online for an effective trial to take place in court;

• an online portal for defendants charged with summary offences to submit a plea;

• a digital service that will process “guilty” and “proof in absence”, Single Justice Procedure work (typically, summary-only non-imprisonable cases) in magistrates’ courts;

• an end-to-end digital process to record, transmit and publish court decisions; and

• a new digital system to schedule magistrates’ court sittings.