A grant award worth £1.1million over two years, from the Government’s ‘Police Innovation Fund’, will provide video technology to help fully digitise the criminal justice system in Sussex over the next 18 months.
The joint bid was submitted by Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne and the Sussex Criminal Justice Board and was backed by a number of criminal justice agencies across Sussex including; Sussex Police, Victim Support, Crown Prosecution Service, HM Courts & Tribunals Service, Probation Service, Prison Service, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Criminal Defence Solicitors. Working more closely together they will ensure swifter, safer justice for victims and witnesses of crime.
The proposed model supports the Policing Minister’s Criminal Justice System Efficiency Programme and other national models designed to improve the service provided by the Magistrates courts, under the banner of ‘Transforming Summary Justice’.
Detective Superintendent Nick Sloan, who has been seconded to the PCC’s office to lead the digital reform programme in Sussex, said: “All criminal justice services are striving to improve outcomes for victims, which is why partners in Sussex have worked together to develop this bid.
“The new model is not about simply overlaying video technology on top of the current criminal justice system – it’s about redesigning the way we work locally and using video technology to improve that process. Ultimately it will ensure that vulnerable victims and witnesses will be better cared for.”
The wider use of video technology has the potential to support:
· Significant re-investment of police time by reducing time spent by front-line police officers travelling to and giving evidence in court.
· Significant savings for police by carrying out interviews over video link with those in prison custody.
· Reduced risks to public safety as it will minimise the time spent moving offenders to and from prison and allow court hearings to take place whilst defendants are in prison or other secure accommodation.
· Increased efficiencies for HMCTS and CPS by improving court scheduling.
· Reductions in expenses incurred by interpreters and professional witnesses.
· Reductions in the amount of time and travel by police officers in obtaining search warrants and proceeds of crime applications.
· Improved access to victims, witnesses and offenders for defence solicitors.
· Reductions in transportation costs associated with moving defendants and prisoners i.e. from prisons, mental health institutions and young offenders’ institutions.
· NHS nurses being taken away from direct patient care in order to escort people to court.
· Mental health patients – by removing the distress that can be caused by taking them out of a familiar environment and bringing them into court.
The new model will provide a blueprint for how similar schemes could be rolled out across the country, including assessing how extended court sittings and cases which are bailed to appear to court are handled.
In total, Sussex projects worth almost £2 million have been supported in the latest round of funding awards from the Police Innovation Fund.
Other successful bids include:
· A collaborative bid worth £249,000 over two years with the Southern Co-operative Ltd and Sussex Business Crime Reduction Partnership to improve business crime reporting, supported by dedicated business wardens.
· A collaborative bid between Surrey and Sussex Police worth £249,150 to critically assess the benefits of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology in policing, and develop an accredited training package for the police use of UAVs.
· The second phase of a collaborative bid with 14 other police forces worth £300,000 to work together more closely across a common IT system, managing intelligence more effectively to keep people safe and catch criminals.
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, said: “This is a huge win for Sussex taxpayers who will benefit from an enhanced local policing service as a result of these innovative projects. These bids clearly demonstrate the benefits of working closely with other police forces and partners, not only to improve efficiencies but, crucially, to keep people safe.”
Pictured: Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne.