According to Energis, the IP virtual private network (VPN) it is providing for the CPS is designed to offer guaranteed network throughput. In other words, the network offers a quality of service level for delivery of network data. This is important as delays in network traffic can cause network applications to fail. Using a technique know as multi-protocol label switching, principal applications can be given priority on the network based on their IP address, according to an Energis spokesman.
The Energis network underpins the CPS' new case management system, currently being developed by Logica. Through the new system staff will be able to access and share legal documents electronically rather than waiting for the original paper copies to arrive by courier.
Case management within the CPS is one part of a revamp of the UK's criminal justice network involving the Crown Prosecution Service, criminal courts, the Prison Service and the Probation Service. Goals of the combined service are detailed in a new Criminal Justice White Paper. These include delivery of secure e-mails across the criminal justice network by 2003 and the ability to exchange case files electronically by 2005.
The Government expects to invest nearly £1bn over the next three years to create the integrated case management system across the criminal justice network. The Audit Commission recently highlighted a lack of interoperability between key criminal justice agencies, which could hamper progress.