Police, courts to save millions via streamlining tech

The CJ Know-How system pulls information together from police, the CPS and courts to more speedily rectify problems with offender management

UK courts and police forces could save tens of millions of pounds thanks to technology to aimed at streamlining the criminal justice system.

The CJ Know-How system should help deliver "real savings" to the billions of pounds it costs to administer criminal justice in England and Wales, according to the chief executive of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Peter Lewis.

The £7.2m secure web-based application pulls information together from police, the CPS and court computer systems to chart defendants' progress.

The system provides a rapid snapshot of the criminal justice system, allowing problems with offender management to be spotted and put right within weeks.

Lewis said it could have previously taken six months for problems to emerge, citing examples of wasted spending and manpower where defendants were sent back to custody without being properly dealt with in court.

In Cumbria, where the system has already been tested, it has helped realise £850,000 of savings through two initiatives to fast track the court and police cautions process.

The system is able to scale up from individual courts or forces to provide an overview of regional performance, allowing different forces to learn from best practice elsewhere in the country.

Lewis said: "Cumbria is just one of 42 criminal justice areas in England and Wales, and also one of the smallest. If they think they can save almost £1m, imagine what we could save across the country. This allows us to really focus our efforts and bring about some real change."

Justice minister Lord Hunt said: "The sharing of knowledge and information is one way we are going to go the extra mile and make improvements to our outcomes."

The system is being adopted by criminal justice staff across England and Wales. It has been in development since 2005 and is supplied by Logica and Northgate Public Services.