The Crown Prosecution Service has replaced nearly 3,000 computers with new laptops as part of efforts to become a 'fully digitally enabled' organisation.
The CPS's latest annual report, published today, shows net expenditure rising by £4m since last year to £491m in 2016-17. However, the CPS says its digital strategy has contributed to its 'structured cost reduction'.
In the last financial year, around 2,800 'older machines' were replaced with Lenovo laptops, BlackBerry devices were rolled out to staff and a new phone system was installed, 'integrating telecommunication with laptops and allowing more flexibility by ensuring people across the organisation are supported by technology wherever they might be working', the CPS said.
More than 5,000 staff were registered 'remote access service users', exceeding the CPS's 4,500 target.
The CPS says 'further functionality' to support better case management has enhanced its current case management system, making it 'quicker and more user friendly'. The CMS interface is being improved to support multimedia and large files being transferred.
The CPS has piloted a separate file collaboration service. A procurement process has begun to enable large files to be shared securely online within the criminal justice system. A 'Prosecutor App' in the magistrates' court has been 'embedded' nationally, and an automated hearing record sheet updates the case management system back at headquarters.
In the last financial year, the CPS secured 493,331 convictions, representing 83.9% of all cases. Its conviction rate was 84.8% in the magistrates' court and 78.9% in the Crown court.
The CPS has prosecuted fewer cases - 588,021 in 2016-17 compared to 637,798 in 2015-16. However, homicide, sexual abuse and online fraud cases have risen.
The report adds: 'Such case types are often evidentially complex with a heavy reliance on often vulnerable victims and witnesses. This impacts the quality of casework and effort required to bring successful prosecutions.'
Cases involving alleged violence against women and girls represent 19% of the CPS's caseload. The number of cases waiting for a prosecutor's decision fell from just below 500 in the first quarter of 2016-17 to 126 cases by the end of that year.
To support social mobility, the CPS says preparatory work has begun to develop 'talented staff' to take up Crown prosecutors through the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives route. The prosecuting body will also introduce a work experience 'strategy' in 2017-18. In the last financial year, apprentices represented 2.8% of the CPS's workforce.
Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions, said: 'Our people have helped us create a clear plan for steps we will take to become the organisation we want to be by 2020. When I look at the dedication and professionalism with which our people have worked to implement that plan over the last year, I am confident we will meet those aims.'