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Legal Guidance: Digital Working Across the Criminal Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2012
14 pages
This document reviews the legal provisions pertinent to the use of computerized and electronic methods of service in both the magistrates' court and Crown Court in the United Kingdom.
The statutory provisions and associated regulations regarding the creation and use of computerized data are explained, along with the circumstances under which paper and non-electronic forms of service will still be used for sound operational reasons. The intent of this report is to assist those who work in the criminal justice system to manage the change from the use of paper files to full-scale computerized records. It does not introduce any new computerized operations or signal any immediate expansion of the use of digital data. The provisions and regulations indicate that working with digital data is consistent with the relevant criminal statutes and Criminal Procedure Rules. The section of the report that addresses 'Limitations on Digital Working' specifies the areas of criminal justice processing that must continue to use paper files. This is indicated for files pertaining to certain classes of defendants, prosecutorial files introduced in magistrates' court trials and committal hearings, and in most cases handled by the Crown Court. Other sections of the report address the authentication of digital documents and the importance of distinguishing between the format of documents and the method by which they are presented. The use of digital data at various stages of case proceedings is also considered. The report concludes with definitions of terms relevant to policies and procedures for computerized data. Links to relevant legislation and rules and practices are listed.