“If we delay justice for the victims by not being efficient and for people who are accused and end up not being found guilty, we delay justice for them as well” Willie Cowan, Deputy Director, Criminal Justice

work, which when implemented is set to revolutionise the way evidence is collected, stored and disseminated during criminal cases, delivering potentially significant cost and time savings and allowing justice agencies to focus on impoving the ‘user experience’ for victims and wit- nesses in criminal proceedings. Te data-based project is set to

become the ‘backbone’ of moves towards greater collaboration be- tween justice partners in trans- acting information for criminal cases, and will also be an enabler for further digital transformation of the justice system in Scotland.


A £20m cross-government project to create a shared digital evidence portal for justice provid- ers in Scotland is set to enter a period of extended contractual negotiations with four potential suppliers. Te digital evidence sharing ca-

pability (DESC) project – involv- ing Scottish Government Justice Directorate, Police Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fis- cal Service, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and the defence

community – closed its procure- ment window as of March 13 and will now embark on a process known as ‘competitive proce- dure with negotiation’ under the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) rule. Tech companies Fujitsu, Axon,

Motorola and NICE are all ex- pected to participate in the pro- cess with the partner agencies as the ‘skeleton requirements’ for the eventual system are outlined over the coming weeks and months. Te companies all submitted bids to carry out the

As Willie Cowan, Deputy Direc- tor, Criminal Justice, said at FutureScot’s Digital Justice conference last October: “We need to use the technology that’s available to us to get things done quicker, faster and more ef- ficiently – we cannot be moving hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of bits of paper around the system, inefficiently, maybe ineffectively and delaying justice, if we delay justice for the victims by not being efficient and for people who are accused and end up not being found guilty, we de- lay justice for them as well.” Describing the current system as ‘Victorian’, Cowan added:

“Digital evidence sharing is hugely important in terms of simply getting digital evidence through the police and into the Crown Office and having a crime presented in court efficiently and effectively, if indeed cases need to get there once the accused or defence hopefully get earlier vis- ibility of the ..actual evidence.” He said: “Actually, the digital

evidence sharing capability is also the foundation for further significant transformation which is going to happen on the back of that. It’s important in its own right but it’s also very important as a foundation for other transformation to come. Victims and witnesses at the centre of everything. We’ve got a joint project underway just now between Victim Support Scotland and the Crown Office, using service design principles, to improve services for victims and witnesses.” Cowan also pointed to a future justice system using Artificial Intelligence and said that the Justice Vision and Priorities document published in 2017 was due a refresh in 2020.

Fiona Cameron, Head of Justice Digital and Strategy, Scottish Government, said: “DESC has a significance beyond what it will deliver in its own right; it’s really about the significance of joining our justice partners together in a digital sense and DESC will deliver for the first time a single technical platform that will span the whole of the system and join up the whole criminal justice system in a technical sense. She said: “It will give us that

digital backbone for the system which we haven’t had until now that will deliver the functionality at every part of the system. More than just joining up the organi- sations in a digital sense, DESC offers us the opportunity to join up in a people sense; in DESC we really have the opportunity to work together in a way that we haven’t worked together [before] and we’re trying to leverage DESC as a pathfinder to create a different way of working, embedding colleagues from our partner organisations within a core central team.” l


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