Chapter 4: Digital innovation
39. The Evidence and Procedure Review promoted the wider use of digital technology across the justice system. COPFS is involved in delivering these projects with justice partners and implementing the Scottish Government's Digital Strategy for Justice. COPFS has also continued to develop its own internal digital strategy, published in January 2017, setting out its vision on using digital technology to improve user services and how the organisation works. We have highlighted a few initiatives below.
iPads in court
40. In our 2017-18 Annual Report, we noted that the use of iPads in court allowed prosecutors to electronically access case files through the use of a digital application 'Case Management in Court' (CMiC). This application and the use of the iPad had been rolled out to 13 offices and the remaining offices would come on board by the end of 2019. This has now happened and approximately 250 legal staff have been provided with an iPad and training to allow them to digitally present cases in court. Over 400 support staff have been trained in relation to the web-based application to electronically prepare courts for legal staff.
41. All COPFS offices are now using CMiC in Justice of the Peace Courts and by the end of 2019, it is anticipated that CMiC will be used in all summary cases across Scotland. COPFS anticipates that 2019-20 will be the first full year where iPads will be used in all summary business throughout Scotland.
42. The benefits of the project outlined in our last Annual Report are now being realised. These include improving security due to the reduced need to transport hard copy papers to court; reducing the impact on the environment given that fewer papers are being printed in hard copy; and improving efficiency and customer service, by allowing prosecutors to update the COPFS system with what happens in court in quick-time and enabling COPFS staff to provide victims and witnesses with speedier updates.
43. The next stage is for the CMiC application to be developed for use in solemn business and the goal is that the application and the iPads will be in use in all sheriff and jury business by 2020-21. It is then intended to look at whether the application can be used in High Court business.
44. Now that the CMiC application is fully rolled out across all offices in summary business, the Inspectorate will be able to assess its impact on the business in future thematic reports.
45. In our last Annual Report, we advised that COPFS has received funding from the Scottish Government to produce a witness website or portal and a prototype was being produced by the end of March 2019.
46. We are pleased to report that this has now taken place and the prototype has been demonstrated to COPFS stakeholders within the Scottish Government and other justice partners. The prototype incorporates Chatbots and Live Chat Service as outlined in the Digital Strategy. The purpose is to enhance the communication between users and the public. It will now be deployed for evaluation between January and March 2020 and implemented later in 2020.
Future Ways of Working Project
47. This project was launched this year by COPFS to provide staff with the tools, systems and processes they need to work flexibly while continuing to deliver high standards of service to the public. This will involve providing staff with a laptop and software to support mobile workforce aims.
48. The Inspectorate will be interested in how this project develops and supports COPFS staff in their work/life balance, while ensuring that a high standard of prosecutorial service is maintained.