Digitalisation of the Criminal Justice System
The UK’s Criminal Justice System (CJS) is going digital. This will accelerate the flow of information and save a lot of time and money on paper and related work such as storing and organising paper files. But above all, it will make the CJS faster and more transparent.
Adoption of Digitalisation by the CJS
Digitalisation of the CJS is a part of the wider government’s programme on making the country’s Criminal Justice System more efficient. As a result, all CJS agencies are getting digitalised. The majority of police forces have already completed the transition, while the remaining ones will complete the process by the end of 2013.
In addition to police forces, the courts are preparing for digitalisation as well and very soon, electronic files and hearings will become a reality. As a result, the defence community will need to adjust to the changes and adopt digitalisation as well.
According to the defence community, Secure eMail is the greatest change in digitalisation of the CJS. Defence firms will communicate with the CJS agencies via Secure eMail which will allow access to electronic files. These are identical to paper files but eliminate the expenses and time needed for storing and organising paper. At the same time, electronic files can be accessed faster and are more searchable, while communication with the CJS agencies is instant.
Law Society on Digitalisation of the CJS
The Law Society welcomes the government’s efforts to make the CJS more efficient through digitalisation. According to the Society, the defence community will benefit from digitalisation in both time and money as defence firms will no longer need to keep all case files physically which is not a negligible cost. They don’t only require a lot of space but they also require proper security measures which are not inexpensive. However, the Law Society also pointed out to some issues with the CJS going digital and the need to resolve these issues in order for the digitalisation to succeed. The Law Society sees as most problematic:
- costs of upgrading IT equipment
- costs of printing paper copies for clients
- security of sending electronic copies to clients
- IT infrastructure and marketing provisions in prisons and courts
- determining the fee on the basis of electronic evidence and digitalisation of legal aid applications