The Crown Prosecution Service has launched procurement for an electronic document management system that will allow it to prepare and present evidence electronically.
The agency has issued a tender notice for a framework agreement to cover document scanning services, software to support electronic presentation of evidence, courtroom hardware and “confidential-level” case material handling services.
Electronic preparation and presentation of evidence (EPPE) packages process evidence information into digital presentations that can be used in crown courts. The system assists particularly with the prosecution of large and complex cases, such as fraud.
It also offers savings in photocopying, preparation and trial time for the prosecutor, caseworker, both prosecution and defence counsel and the overall court process.
A CPS spokesperson said: “This makes the justice process more cost-effective and efficient in its delivery.” The CPS is aiming for a 25% reduction in evidence preparation costs.
EPPE has been used by the CPS before, but only on a case by case basis. The procurement is “an attempt to rationalise its use and make it more cost-effective”, the spokesperson said. The framework deal will consolidate the 71 companies currently used by the CPS’s London and headquarters offices with a limited panel of providers of scanning and presentation hardware and software.
The CPS is aiming to test how the new arrangements will work in practice with an initial 12-month contract, covering its London area and the three casework divisions based at its headquarters, although other prosecuting authorities may also access services from the contract.
EPPE was used by the CPS in a recent complex fraud trial – R v Doglov – involving a fake ID scam that netted millions of pounds for the fraudsters. The case required around 50,000 statements and 1,200 exhibits, taking two years to bring to court.
The CPS said the case was concluded in three weeks – rather than the expected minimum of eight weeks – using EPPE services provided by two suppliers. Case material was scanned and transferred onto DVD and used electronically in court, with IT training provided for the judge and the prosecuting and defence counsel. Members of the jury also used laptops.
The government’s Office for Criminal Justice Reform is preparing a business case for wider use of EPPE in the criminal justice system, focusing on ensuring a standardised approach.