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Efficient Government Fund EGF)1)2)61 Updating of Countermand Systems

DescriptionSTATUS - UNSUCCESSFUL - To reduce the number of postal countermands issued by the Procurator Fiscal Service, as well as reducing the requirement for police process servers and police officers to be involved in delivering non-postal countermands to civilian witnesses in summary cases.
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Official Print Publication DateMarch 2005
Website Publication DateFebruary 28, 2006

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    1. EFFICIENT GOVERNMENT FUND

    Stage 1 application - expression of interest

    Bid number (for EG use)

    Lead bidder

    Strathclyde Police, 173 Pitt Street, Glasgow G2 4JS
    Mr Ricky Gray, Deputy Chief Constable, 0141 532 2000
    ricki.gray@strathclyde.pnn.police.uk

    Brief description of the aims of the project

    The project objective is to reduce the number of postal countermands issued by the Procurator Fiscal Service, as well as reducing the requirement for police process servers and police officers to be involved in delivering non-postal countermands to civilian witnesses in summary cases. This would be achieved by utilising existing technology as a means of countermanding witnesses by the use of text messaging, sent via mobile telephones.

    Clear description of what the EGF money would be used to buy

    EGF money would be used to finance the costs associated with a scoping study, leading to conducting a pilot project, linked to the 1998/99 pilot concerning the postal citation and postal countermanding of civilian witnesses.

    Partners to the project likely to commit resources

    Strathclyde Police

    Crown Office/Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS)

    Names of other organisations with whom the project has been discussed (to assist the introductions process)

    Crown Office/Procurator Fiscal Service

    Evidence that suggested approach has been deployed successfully elsewhere

    In December 2003, Fife Council launched the "Fife Direct to You" project which includes arrangements to provide notification of school closures caused by severe weather. In essence, details of closures are entered on the Fife Council computer hub and routed to a commercial firm ("TextAnywhere"). Multiple text messages are thereafter sent to the respective parents, with each message tailored to the school concerned. There is no cost to the parents and they are not required to acknowledge the text messages. Some 740 parents registered for the service at its launch and this figure has now increased to 3,500 (February 2005).

    Moreover, text messaging is also now in use by hospitals in Glasgow and Edinburgh as a means of contacting patients to notify them of medical appointments.

    Are there any restrictions to potential for enlargement of the project ( i.e. technology, number of partners etc)

    There is the potential to adapt the methodology applied by the Fife Council project for use by the Crown Office/Procurator Fiscal Service across Scotland, in relation to the countermanding of civilian witnesses. Indeed, police witnesses could similarly be countermanded in this fashion. The technology involved has been successfully evaluated and text messaging is now an accepted and widely used form of communication.

    Benefits projected from the project

    There are numerous benefits to be obtained from a successful project. (a) Civilian witness would receive more timeous notification of countermands. (b) The Procurator Fiscal's Office would save costs on administration and postal charges. (c) More productive time would be released for police officers and police process servers,

    Estimated financial projections

    Total

    2004/5

    2005/6

    2006/7

    2007/8

    Overall project cost

    At this stage the bid is for the costs associated with a scoping study, leading to a pilot project of approximately 6 months.

    Nyk

    Estimated projected benefits

    Nyk

    Is a pilot required - see guidance notes

    It is suggested that a pilot project be run at Glasgow Sheriff Court, involving "G" Division, Strathclyde Police. The territorial boundaries of "G" Division encompass the south east areas of Glasgow (within the jurisdiction of Glasgow Sheriff Court) and the East Renfrewshire local authority area (within the jurisdiction of Paisley Sheriff Court). The Glasgow area would be utilised as the pilot area with the East Renfrewshire area being the control area. It may also be necessary for another Glasgow city division to be used as an additional control area, in order that a fuller comparison can be made between the countermanding arrangements that apply to Glasgow Sheriff Court and Paisley Sheriff Court.

    Additionally: why is EG funding required

    The potential to "roll-out" the system of countermanding witnesses by text messaging compares very much with the earlier and related funding of the postal citation and countermanding system. Hardware and development costs in the region of £116,000.00 were incurred at that time (1998/99). However, based on the experience of Fife Council in setting up the 'Fife Direct to You' project the amount of funding required for the EG bid would be considerably less.

    Does this project complementary in anyway to other EG work

    The Efficient Government ( EG) Circular of 2 September 2004, cites the introduction of postal citations as an example of where police 'productive time' has been increased. Likewise, the report on 'Building a Better Scotland' makes reference to 'releasing productive time' by improving the efficiency of the justice system through joint working between agencies.

    Is "stage 2 development funding" requested?

    Not at present. The bid is to fund a scoping study to assess the potential for a pilot project to be undertaken, allied to the costs associated with the pilot project.