Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) should make more use of IT to reduce delays in the courts system.
The PAC said 55% of the £173m cost from delays in magistrates’ courts is down to defence teams, but that the police and the CPS account for 14% each (£24m each).
The PAC said the CPS needs to review its organisational structure, revise its system for preparing for magistrates' court cases by adopting current best practice, and address the cultural resistance within the organisation to more modern working practices.
On managing cases, said the PAC, the CPS should, among other measures, make full use of its Compass electronic case management system, requiring all CPS staff to update the system when moving files.
On using technology to improve processes, the PAC said the CPS should provide electronic equipment which allows legal staff across the CPS to record case information at court and automatically transfer it to the Compass system.
The CPS should also provide CPS lawyers during the 2006-07 financial year with technology such as pagers to enable them to be contacted more easily when away from the office, and equip CPS office with a DVD player on which to review evidence.
The CPS should also encourage Local Criminal Justice Boards to seek greater availability of DVD players in courts.
In addition, the CPS should take the lead in initiating discussions with the police, the Courts Service, manufacturers, trade associations, and other interested parties, to explore the scope for a national CCTV standard to provide consistency across the industry, to enable consistent video evidence.