£1.1m investment to digitise criminal justice in Sussex

Funding of £1.1 million from the Home Office Police Innovation Fund will be used to fully digitise the criminal justice system in Sussex over the next 18 months through the use of video technology.

Apr 1, 2015
By Paul Jacques
NFRN national president Narinder Randhawa

Funding of £1.1 million from the Home Office Police Innovation Fund will be used to fully digitise the criminal justice system in Sussex over the next 18 months through the use of video technology.

Detective Superintendent Nick Sloan, who has been seconded to the office of the Sussex police and crime commissioner (PCC) to lead the digital reform programme, explained: “All criminal justice services are striving to improve outcomes for victims, which is why partners in Sussex have worked together to develop this bid.

“The new model is not about simply overlaying video technology on top of the current criminal justice system – it’s about redesigning the way we work locally and using video technology to improve that process. Ultimately it will ensure that vulnerable victims and witnesses will be better cared for.”

The new model is expected to provide a blueprint for how similar schemes could be rolled out across the country, including assessing how extended court sittings and cases that are bailed to appear to court are handled.

The joint bid was submitted by Sussex PCC Katy Bourne and the Sussex Criminal Justice Board, supported by Sussex Police and a number of criminal justice agencies across Sussex, including Victim Support, the Crown Prosecution Service, HM Courts and Tribunals Service, the Probation Service, the Prison Service, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and criminal defence solicitors. By working more closely it will ensure swifter, safer justice for victims and witnesses of crime.

The wider use of video technology has the potential to support:

•Significant re-investment of police time by reducing the time spent by frontline police officers travelling to, and giving evidence in, court;

•Significant savings for police by carrying out interviews over video link with those in prison custody;

•Reduced risks to public safety as it will minimise the time spent moving offenders to and from prison and allow court hearings to take place while defendants are in prison or other secure accommodation; and

•Reduction in the amount of time and travel by police officers to obtain search warrants and proceeds of crime applications.

In total, Sussex projects worth almost £2 million have been supported in the latest round of funding awards from the Police Innovation Fund.

A collaborative bid between Surrey and Sussex police forces worth £249,150 will critically assess the benefits of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology in policing and develop an accredited training package for the police use of UAVs.

The second phase of the Minerva collaborative bid with 14 other police forces – to establish a common IT system to manage intelligence more effectively – was awarded a further £300,000.

A collaborative bid worth £249,000 over two years with the Southern Co-operative and Sussex Business Crime Reduction Partnership will look to improve business crime reporting, supported by dedicated business wardens.

Ms Bourne, said: “These bids clearly demonstrate the benefits of working closely with other police forces and partners, not only to improve efficiencies but, crucially, to keep people safe.”

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