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Criminal justice IT “needs better integration”

The Criminal Justice System IT contains too many disparate systems and is taking too long to improve, according to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

In a PAC report that probes the Ministry of Justice’s Probation Service and IT systems, the Committee claimed a clearer vision for the future was needed.

The organisation also called for a timetable that lays out how different initiatives will come together to build a case management system that is coherent and seamless.

“The Committee also looked across the wider Criminal Justice System. We identified a number of weaknesses that have persisted for far too long and which cause delay and inefficiency and service to undermine public confidence,” claimed Margaret Hodge, PAC Chair.

“The Departments responsible (Home Office, Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General’s Office) are struggling to ensure the smooth passage of criminal case through the system,” she added.

Fragmentation across departments

The report also added that IT is particularly fragmented in the Police service – noting that 2000 IT systems are in use across Police, 300 of which are in the Metropolitan Police alone.

Hodge claimed that the Departments involved had acknowledged that sharing information across organisations was difficult and failure to tackle this issue meant the system not able to be more efficient.

However, the PAC Chair noted that some progress has been made, including that 90 per cent of police files have now been transferred to prosecutors digitally compared to none two years ago.

“The Departments accepted that mistakes had been made in the past, where taking a big-bag approach has caused them problems,” claimed Hodge.

“Now they are seeking to advance incrementally and to join-up systems that already exist, as they try to implement a smooth case management system from offence to probation,” she added.