"I think that's a blooming good performance," says CJIT chief...
The government's criminal justice IT (CJIT) programme to develop national, joined-up systems for the police, prosecutors, courts and probation workers is on target to achieve £3bn in efficiency savings.
CJIT was set up in 2002 to provide anyone involved in the seven criminal justice agencies - professionals, victims, witnesses - with easy access to the information they need by 2008. The current total spent on CJIT is almost £2bn.
In an interview with silicon.com, CJIT director-general John Suffolk said the programme is now on track to deliver savings that will contribute to Gershon efficiency targets in the form of cashable savings, cost avoidance, productivity gains and cuts in crime and its social and economic cost.
He said: "We now make a positive financial return across the 10-year business case of this programme and we are over £3bn in terms of benefit now. I think that's a blooming good performance."
Key strands of the CJIT programme include providing secure email and internet-based services to everyone working in criminal justice, and providing the police, Crown Prosecution Service and magistrates courts with national systems for managing cases.
The final stage is to link all these using a digital hub called the Criminal Justice Exchange that will allow the secure electronic transfer of police and court case information between all the different criminal justice agencies. It is due to be complete by March 2008.
The Exchange could also be used as a platform for a national police intelligence system and, if the legislation is approved, for the verification of national biometric ID cards. Suffolk said the Exchange could be plugged directly into the ID card system for verification of individuals by criminal justice agencies.
He said: "We are not involved with the project in terms of building the ID cards but we would absolutely use it as a data source in terms of identifying people. If you're in the custody suite, for example, you've just collected his fingerprint, is it the same one on the card. For us the ID card is a very powerful source of information."