There is a lot of discussion about digital working in the criminal system, but one issue the Crown Prosecution Service appears unable to address relates to the security marking of papers. When they receive documentation from the police, that documentation normally carries a security marking of ‘Restricted’. The CPS considers the documentation and decides what is to be made available to be produced in open court. This is the material that is served on the defence.
With digital working, the CPS appears to demand the material is dealt with by solicitors on the basis that the ‘Restricted’ security marking is retained. It is ridiculous to argue that the material remains ‘Restricted’ once the CPS has served the documentation, but its continued insistence that this is the case creates insurmountable problems for solicitors when preparing their clients’ cases.
It is unlikely that any early adopters of digital working are able to comply with the terms and conditions imposed upon them, or that they do treat the material in accordance with the ‘Restricted’ label in all cases.
We are in danger of concentrating upon the process, without fully analysing those details that matter so much more.
Dennis Clarke, Clarke Kiernan, Tonbridge, Kent
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