Criminal Justice Joint Inspection blasts court digital systems failing to “talk to each other”

A joint investigation between Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has raised concerns over IT systems in courts that are failing to transfer data between them efficiently.

The report by the Justice Inspectorates found that court-based digital systems have been introduced that “do not talk to each other, wasting resources when material has to be reinput and not providing full value for money”.

“At worst this has led to systems being withdrawn until workable solutions are found. Inspectors found little evidence of the agencies identifying the financial savings made through digitisation,” the report said.

It added that some initiatives have increased the amount of time it takes to record information. Also, hardware installed to assist magistrates’ court presentation was found to be difficult to use in conjunction with other equipment.

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“Progress in establishing a modernised digital criminal justice system has clearly been made but the vision of a digital end-to-end system, where information is captured once by a police officer responding to a crime and then flows through the system without duplication or reworking, is still some way from becoming reality,” said the report.

The report also voiced concerns over a that existed over the misplacing of discs by the CPS.

“These discs can contain CCTV, 999 recordings, suspect interviews and Achieving Best Evidence interviews. The inspection noted that police officers received several requests by the CPS to supply further copies of these discs,” the report found.

It recommended that all police forces and Crown Prosecution Service Areas “should, as a matter of urgency, jointly review arrangements for the provision, transportation and storage of hard media to ensure it is available securely to all appropriate individuals”.

Colin Marrs

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