The new electronic case management system at the heart of the Crown Prosecution Service’s £200m modernisation of the criminal justice system has been praised as a shining example of best practice in public sector IT.
The Compass system, which went fully live on Monday, has been rolled out to more than 7,000 users in 240 locations across 42 CPS areas, in partnership with IT services firm LogicaCMG.
Lawyers, caseworkers and administrators have all been using the system since the implementation began in April 2003, and have now registered the details of more than one million cases.
Ken Macdonald QC, the director of public prosecutions, said, “The Compass programme is already playing a key role in delivering the promise of joined-up justice. As a shining example of best practice IT in government, this system will ensure that the CPS retains its position as a prosecuting authority of stature and delivers both efficient services and value for money to the public.”
The system will give prosecutors a number of new benefits, including full visibility of defendants’ case histories, a definitive view of information irrespective of location and effective ways to track evidence and share information.
Critics have often pointed to a lack of integrated IT across the UK's criminal justice agencies as a cause of inefficiencies in the criminal justice system.
A report by the Audit Commission in 2002 said inadequate IT was contributing to delays and inefficiencies across the system. Even Tony Blair, speaking at a conference that year, admitted that many of the UK's criminal justice IT systems are "still in the dark ages".