Blair admits courts' IT is still in the dark ages

The prime minister Tony Blair has admitted that many of the UK's criminal justice IT systems are "still in the dark ages", and...

The prime minister Tony Blair has admitted that many of the UK's criminal justice IT systems are "still in the dark ages", and has promised major technology investment across the sector.

Speaking at the Modernising Criminal Justice international conference in London earlier this week, Blair said, "Many of our criminal justice IT systems are still in the dark ages in comparison to other jurisdictions and leading-edge private sector organisations."

However, the Government is planning a significant investment to improve criminal justice IT.

Blair said, "There will be a major investment in IT right across the system - in the courts, Crown Prosecution Service and police." This will enable them all to communicate effectively, he added.

The prime minister said that specific details of the Government's planned reform of criminal justice system IT will be contained in a white paper that is due to be published shortly.

Earlier this week a damning report from the Audit Commission said that inadequate IT is contributing to delays and inefficiencies across the criminal justice system. Auditors also highlighted the lack of IT interoperability between key criminal justice agencies.

The criminal justice system has suffered a series of embarrassing IT failures during a period when the system was under pressure to improve efficiency.

A new case-management system for probation officers, dubbed Crams, is due to be replaced after complaints from staff, and magistrates courts are still waiting for a case-management application that was supposed to be supplied by a £319m public finance initiative with ICL. Meanwhile, MPs have criticised the police for holding inaccurate records on the Police National Computer.

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