Defence practitioners are being invited to learn more about a new digital case management system being built by the government - more than a year after Crown Prosecution Service and prison inspectors unearthed 'differing and confused views' about what the system will do.
HM Courts & Tribunals Service has announced a series of drop-in sessions for solicitors to 'find out what the Common Platform is, how it will evolve in the future and how the programme team is building it'.
The platform, which will integrate the case management systems of HMCTS and the Crown Prosecution Service, was first announced in a Transforming the Criminal Justice System paper in July 2014.
Material, instead of being passed from one agency to another - sometimes digitally but often on paper - will be available from a single, central source. HMCTS says the platform will hold the latest, most complete version of case material, which can be accessed by everyone who needs to, 'from almost anywhere, at any time'.
The system has been piloted in Liverpool.
A Criminal Justice Joint Inspection report published last year found 'various opinions' from CPS and HMCTS staff on what they believed the platform was about. Some thought it was a document store, a new process, a set of standards or an approach. Staff were also unsure whether the platform would operate alongside current systems or replace them, and if applications such as the digital case system would be retained or replaced.
Announcing 22 drop-in sessions yesterday, HMCTS said the platform team 'need users to help design the business processes and prioritise software development'. The team will also collect feedback to adapt future system changes, HMCTS added.