An Overview of the New Crown Court Digital Case System
The court system in England and Wales is finally joining the 21st Century. The new Crown Court Digital Case System (DCS) will allow case papers to be shared between judiciary, prosecution and defence in a digital format, securely, over the internet. The new system will allow authorised parties to read and annotate case papers digitally as well as providing the capability of presenting these papers in court. The system is expected to work in tandem with the new Better Case Management (BCM) system and firms are encouraged to embrace digitalisation.
The Crown Court Digital Case System has the potential to lead to a significant reduction in the amount of paper used and wasted by the criminal legal system, as there will be a full opportunity for all those authorised, to gain access to the materials in the case and to upload new documents, to prepare for the case and to review all the statements, exhibits, other case-related documentation before, during and after the hearing, without ever having to go anywhere near a printer.
This software solution is already being implemented in early adopter areas and is expected to be rolled out to the rest of England and Wales between January and March 2016. The Criminal Justice System (CJS) Efficiency Programme and the project team leading this are working with all parties to ensure that the software is delivered in this timeframe.
Benefit for Criminal Lawyers
There are many benefits that the Crown Court Digital Case System will lead to generally and in relation to defence lawyers, the CPS, the Judiciary and the HMCTS Courts Staff.
- From 15th February all cases allocated or sent under the Better Case Management system will operate from the digital case that has been loaded onto the Digital Case System
- HMCTS legacy systems i.e. CREST & Xhibit are not affected; CPS and Probation legacy systems are not affected i.e. CMS & Delius; DCS shall sit alongside these systems
- The IDPC (Initial Disclosure Prosecution Case) will be one of the first documents to be uploaded as the case begins it digital life; any documents that would normally be served by any party in a paper form will be uploaded onto DCS
- Primary users will be the Judiciary, Prosecution & Defence Advocates; DCS allows registered users 24/7 access to their case material as required i.e. before, during or post courtroom hearings
- Streamlines processes, bringing greater efficiencies i.e. removes the need to photocopy documents, eradicates the delays caused by missing papers or court files, and notes and / or court orders can be shared where appropriate
- Defence advocates will not be able to view all cases – they will be ‘invited’ to access the case file.
DCS User Requirements
In order to be able to fully access the benefits of DCS you will need the following:
Sign up for CJSM secure email
Sign up for Professional Court User Wi-fi
Sign up for Digital Case System training & live site.
Devices supported to use the digital case system are laptops, apple macbooks, ipads and tablets.
Criminal Solicitors – Next Steps to take
Full training and support will be provided so that all users will be prepared to use the Digital Case System. All firms need to ensure that their staff who go to court and prepare cases know the new system. Those staff will need to have either a laptop, ipad or other tablet.
Olliers Solicitors – Specialist Criminal Defence
Written by Alex Close-Claughton and Alex Preston. Alex Preston specialises in the defence of serious crime and Alex Close-Claughton is an accredited police representative and member of our Crown Court department.