Modernising the criminal justice system.
Changing how digital evidence is collected, viewed and shared across the justice system could allow cases to be resolved faster and improve the experiences of victims and witnesses.
The Scottish Government has launched the procurement process for a new Digital Evidence Sharing Capability (DESC), which will allow users such as police officers, prosecutors, court staff and defence agents to digitally access evidence in an efficient and user-friendly way.
The initiative, developed in collaboration with justice partners, has the potential to significantly reduce costs involved in managing and transporting evidence such as CCTV footage, video interviews and forensic images in physical form.
The service will also allow for earlier consideration and disclosure of evidence, reducing unnecessary inconvenience to witnesses and the risk of traumatising victims further.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“We are taking action to improve the experiences of victims and witnesses at every stage of the criminal justice process. This change will make a real difference to the time taken for cases to come court, allowing those involved in criminal cases to move on with their lives sooner.
“Reducing delays is just one of the benefits of this project, which will make evidence sharing more cost effective and provide the groundwork for further modernisation of the criminal process.”
DESC is a collaboration between the Scottish Government, Police Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, and the defence community and aims to transform the way that digital evidence is managed throughout criminal investigations and prosecutions.
All digital evidence will only be accessible by approved personnel, such as police officers, fiscal staff and defence agents; access to this information will be fully audited and monitored. The data will be held in secure and approved facilities with the necessary certifications for the storage and access of evidential material (Home Office Police Assured Secure Facilities).