The government will miss the first deadline for its £1.2bn programme to upgrade criminal justice IT systems.
In its Justice for All White Paper published in July last year, the government said that all criminal justice system professionals would be able securely to email each other by the end of 2003.
But the secure email system, which will be one of the foundations of a modernised criminal justice system, will not be fully rolled out to criminal justice professionals until April 2004.
A spokeswoman for Criminal Justice Information Technology (CJIT), which is introducing the changes, said: "The implementation of Secure eMail began in June 2003 and is on track to be completed by April 2004."
The technical infrastructure is in place, so criminal justice professionals who are not public sector employees, such as those working for law firms and victim support groups, are able to access secure email through a web portal.
By using the system they can send and receive documents that are classified as 'restricted'.
But it is designed to replace existing workflows and many users are yet to receive training or complete the security process to enable them to use the system.
This portal launched in September, and registrations have been "considerable", the CJIT spokeswoman said. "The capacity is there. This meets the deadline," she added.
There is a high security process in place for readying systems for access to the secure email service.
CJIT's 'Secure Email Connection and Revocation Policy' says that, once an individual has registered, their identity needs to be verified and their IT systems checked.
This is to ensure that they can deal with the 128-bit encryption, and do not present a weak point of entry for hackers.
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