Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : 30 Million Pound Investment to streamline the justice system [June 1999]

The press release issued by HM Treasury on 10 June 1999.

£30 million of innovative new funding to help cut paperwork and speed up access to justice across the Criminal Justice System was announced by the Chief Secretary Alan Milburn today. Home Secretary Jack Straw, the Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine and Attorney General John Morris welcomed the new funding which is being provided from the Capital Modernisation Fund (CMF).

The investment will create a central fund to provide electronic links to integrate the criminal justice agencies. Such integration will allow electronic case files to be passed between the Police, Prosecutors and Courts and will streamline the management of cases from arrest through to trial and sentence to reduce delays.

The criminal justice system of the future, which the fund will help to build, will have the benefits of:

– the police no longer having to send large bundles of paper to the Crown Prosecution Service, and each criminal justice agency not having to re-key information into its own system;

– improving the courts listing of cases, through more up-to-date information on the availability of witnesses and the readiness of the prosecution and the defence for the hearing, so minimising adjournments and wasted time and travel by victims, witnesses, lawyers and others.

– wider and faster access to Phoenix, the national criminal records database, will cut delays and improve public protection; custody sergeants and courts making decisions on bail, courts deciding between fines, community or custodial sentences, and prison governors deciding on the correct category of prison for an individual will benefit from faster and more accurate information on previous convictions.

Commenting on the investment, Mr Milburn said:

“This innovative pump-priming funding embodies the Government’s commitment to both investing in and modernising public services.

It will cut out time wasting bureaucracy and speed up access to justice. Victims and witnesses in particular can expect an enhanced service with reduced delays. By cutting down on form-filling this new investment will also help free up police, prosecution and court time to concentrate on improving front line services and tackling crime.

In welcoming the project, Mr Straw said:

“This injection of cash is very welcome and is part of our continuing drive to modernise the criminal justice system. It will ensure a greater level of efficiency across the system and will also bring about practical benefits for all those involved by boosting the IT network, integrating the work of agencies, reducing paperwork and raising standards for the management of criminal cases.”

The Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine said:

“This major investment will help to transform the courts. I want the Crown Court and our judges to be at the heart of a modernised, efficient criminal justice system made possible by the latest technology. This is joined-up Government at its best.”

The Attorney General John Morris said:

“Information Technology is a crucial weapon on the Crown Prosecution Services’s fight to prosecute crime successfully. The money released today from the Capital Modernisation Fund will help modernise the criminal justice system and contribute to the integration of electronic links between the CPS, police and the courts, as well as assisting other agencies involved in the fight against crime in the UK.

“I am delighted that the Treasury has again demonstrated the benefits of joined-up Government in this key area, ultimately improving everyone’s lives.”

The £30 million CMF funding will be allocated through the Integrating Business and Information Systems (IBIS) initiative that is taking a strategic approach to IT development across the criminal justice system. The money will be available in the form of bids to a central challenge fund. This will support the best new projects which contribute most to unlocking improvements in communication links, joint working and innovative business solutions across the criminal justice agencies. The focus will be on a modern, efficient criminal justice system that can provide a better service to the public.