The NSW Police Force has issued all of its 280 in-court prosecutors with Apple iPads, to facilitate the use of a new legal research app, LexisNexis Red.
State prosecutors deal with 95 per cent of criminal and related prosecutions within local courts and provide around-the-clock legal advice to the police force.
LexisNexis Red allows users to access up-to-date legal referencing and research material, as well as make notes through the new iPad and PCs running Windows XP or above. The app itself is free, but users will have to pay for the legal books, which are priced similarly to hard copies.
In 2011, the NSW Police was due to update its legal resource library. For nearly a decade, it had ordered hard copy law books, updating them every two years. In its 2011 to 2012 business plan, the NSW Police indicated that it wanted to give its prosecutors access to electronic law resources on mobile devices.
The police subsequently embarked on a three-month pilot, trialling different devices and electronic software. In the end, the iPad and LexisNexis Red combination, which the Police had helped develop, came out on top.
LexisNexis Red used with the iPad satisfied the criteria set by the Police Force, including ease of use, fast access and featuring regularly updated material. The app will update any content change, including legislation and case law, within 72 hours. All downloaded material is saved onto the device.
NSW Police Force Inspector and manager Brendan Searson was unable to disclose how much the roll-out will cost, but noted that the solution will save a lot of money.
"We have achieved savings in the licensing of the product, in paper savings and in the way we are educating our police prosecutors," he said at the LexisNexis Red launch in Sydney.
He noted that the department is also able to cut costs through using mobile Wi-Fi devices that can service at least five iPads, instead of providing more expensive 3G access.
"The app is complemented by the NSW Police Force's subscription to LexisNexis online services," Searson said. "From an ICT perspective, data quality has improved exponentially."
Another benefit for prosecutors is the reduction in the heavy books they have to lug to Court on a daily basis, which can weigh up to 6.7kg. An iPad weighs around 600g.
Season also said that it has not added cost in providing IT support. IT support is provided by LexisNexis as part of a contract and also by Apple.