Bromley is leading a countrywide project that is seeing courtrooms enter a new digital age, the News Shopper can today announce (April 11).
Bromley Magistrates' Court is piloting a Criminal Justice System (CJS) initiative to allow criminal cases to be handled completely digitally – “from the moment a crime is committed through to conclusion in court”.
Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice Damian Green was in Bromley yesterday (April 10) to answer questions as the facilities were unveiled.
He revealed plans for England and Wales to be given technological upgrades that will speed up and improve the judicial process, ensuring witness safety and making evidence more accessible.
As body-worn cameras are being rolled out for police, officers will also benefit when collecting and compiling evidence, beginning to build case files while on the beat.
Mr Green explained: “I want to see a Criminal Justice System where information is captured once by a police officer responding to a crime and then flows through the system to the court stage without duplication or reworking.”
Bromley is already said to be getting results – a trial last week saw a defendant plead guilty immediately after seeing his crime, captured on CCTV, shown to the court on a television screen.
The minister added: “We can see here in Bromley what can be achieved and we are committed to making this happen across the country.
“People in Bromley are getting their justice delivered quicker”.
Named the ‘Digital Business Model’, Mr Green added it provides “for the first time a full picture” of a “transformed system".
It comes as the Government stands to pump in £75 million of funding a year, with plans in place to see all criminal courts operating digitally by July 2016.
London's Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh was also on hand for the presentation and said he was "excited" to be in Bromley.
He conceded the CJS has been “too slow” and “outmoded”, and welcomed the steps to modernise.
He told News Shopper: “Bromley is a great place – crime is falling.
"But cases often take six months in London. It's too long. We can absolutely cut that.
“This is an opportunity to get London right at the forefront of criminal justice.”
Key points - what the Criminal Justice System Digital Business Model will bring:
- Police can capture evidence digitally at crime scenes, including witness statements, and will upload and file information instantly - to be referred to as cases develop.
- Officers will also be able to contact the Crown Prosecution Service directly for charging decisions.
- Defendants in custody may appear in court via video link for pre-trial hearings, removing transport costs and speeding up the justice process.
- Both prosecutors and defence lawyers in magistrates’ courts can harness the technology to present cases digitally, instead of working from bundles of paper.
- Evidence, such as CCTV footage, 999 calls, and photographs, can be displayed on screens in court.