Police force equips its prosecutors with iPads

iPad use to cut costs and condense heavy books are not only found in schools or on planes - now, it's in the courtroom.

The New South Wales (NSW) Police Force has issued every one of its in-court prosecutors, 280 in total, with iPads.

A new legal research application, LexisNexis Red, is being used by each prosecutor in an attempt to streamline and improve the efficiency of the Australian state's justice system. Rather than head to court with heavy legal books on a daily basis, each iPad weighs roughly 600g -- and the idea is an iPad will allow access to legal referencing material in a more effective manner.

"There are benefits to the criminal justice system as a whole by creating greater efficiencies, and that also translates to a better service that we can provide to front line police," Chief Superintendent Tony Trichter said.

The LexisNexis Red app allows users to access legal referencing material through a digital library format, as well as make notes through the iPad or any personal computer running the Windows XP operating system or above. The application itself is free, however, users have to purchase the ebooks.

The NSW Police Force's subscription to the service is part of an update to its legal resource library. For nearly a decade, the organisation has ordered hard-copy versions of legal resources every two years, but in its 2011 - 2012 business plan, it indicated that it wanted to make the transition to mobile devices.

After a three-month trial period which tested different mobile devices, applications and services for prosecutors, the iPad and LexisNexis Red app -- of which the force contributed in developing -- secured the contract.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Michael Gallacher said this was a revolutionary step for law enforcement in Australia, saying:

"NSW is leading the way giving prosecutors the ability to have immediate access to important resources is imperative. Prosecutors will have the most up to date information at their finger-tips allowing them to focus their energy where it is most needed. We live in a digital age and our law enforcement agencies need these tools to enhance their capabilities and enable them to be more efficient."

Any downloaded material is saved on to the device, and content changes are updated every 72 hours. Although the cost of the roll-out has not been disclosed, Trichter believes that the project could result in savings of over NZD$100,000 in the first three years.

Image credit: David Ortez

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com