Courts agencies plan multimillion-pound digitisation of criminal justice services

HMCTS and CPS float contract notice

Credit: PA

HM Courts and Tribunal Service and the Crown Prosecution Service are seeking a commercial partner to support a £3m-plus two-year programme of digitisation of criminal-justice services.

The two entities have issued a contract notice seeking a supplier to provide a seven-strong team of designers to support its work to “develop efficient, proportionate and accessible digital services to enable access to justice”. 

The work, which will take place over a period of up to 30 months, will be primarily focused on digitising processes and files across a criminal case system that is currently reliant on paper and physical media storage, such as CDs or USB sticks. The Crime Programme – which has already been in operation for several years – is part of a wider £1bn reform of the courts system being led by HMCTS.

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“For the first time, criminal case information will be kept together in one place,” the contract notice said. “Current criminal justice system services are typically supported by paper and hard media-based processes which are expensive, subject to frequent delay and sometimes confusing to citizens without legal training. The crime programme is designed to develop efficient, proportionate and accessible digital services and ensure the work of the CPS and HMCTS is managed and delivered via appropriate modern channels.”

These services have six defined user groups, the first of which is citizens, who should be able to go online to access and track cases or pleas. Both prosecutors and defence lawyers, meanwhile, will require access to evidence, while prosecuting agencies will need the ability submit evidence. Finally, courts admin staff should be able to digitally manage the processes of the justice system.

“The Crime Programme is established and has been running for a number of years,” the contract notice said. “We have multiple services already live on the platform including a citizen-facing service in the form of online plea for relatively minor cases and initial case working function which enables single justice procedure cases to be handled within magistrates and crown court. The focus over the contract period is to deliver the full court capability which will enable the decommissioning of most current legacy systems that support the criminal justice service of today.”

The chosen supplier will be appointed to a contract lasting two years, plus a potential six-month extension. The engagement will be worth an estimated £3.1m to the winning bidder.

Bids are open until 24 February, with work scheduled to begin on 1 April.


Sam Trendall

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