HAMPSHIRE police have become the first force in the country to trial electronic criminal case files in a bid to speed up justice.
The pilot involves using digital recording in interviews, 999 tapes and electronic witness statements, through to using technology such as iPads in court.
The project, in the Waterlooville area, is initially focusing on domestic abuse cases.
It is hoped it will lead to cases being dealt with more quickly to benefit victims, defendants, the courts and police by making the justice system more efficient.
Jo Rowland, head of the custody and criminal justice department at Hampshire police, said: ‘We need now to turn our attention to capturing actual evidence digitally.
‘Otherwise officers have to convert paper statements or audio tapes into something that can be sent to the Crown Prosecution Service and that takes time.
‘Hampshire police [is] one of the most advanced in the country around starting to experiment with mobile data.
‘This particular pilot in the Waterlooville area is looking at using digital recording in interviews, digital recording on 999 tapes and electronic witness statements.
‘Because there’s such a strict requirement around custody types it’s quite a large investment to go digital.
‘We have waited until we can make sure our equipment is something that can be compatible with electronic case files with a view to rolling it out over the next year.
‘The hope is that officers won’t deal with very much paper at all because they will use the electronic witness statement, they will use the digital interview, they will use digital recordings that can be heard as an encrypted audio file.
‘Hampshire [is] the first force to really start to join all of the technology strands together to make a complete digital case file.’
The move comes after Chief Constable Alex Marshall revealed how two serious crime cases were successfully run paperless last year.
Jo added: ‘Nationally, as Alex Marshall has explained, there is an agenda to make the whole criminal justice system digital and bring it up to date.
‘That’s a process that’s largely active across Hampshire.
‘The Waterlooville pilot is pulling that all together to try and get a complete electronic case file from start to finish.
‘We need to carefully measure that this investment is speeding up justice.
‘We are confident it will do.’