The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will start connecting its £200m electronic case management system to police forces this autumn, as it looks to improve conviction rates.
The CPS is to start instructing police from this autumn on what charges should be brought, as part of an initiative to improve prosecutions.
It will integrate its National Case Management System with those in individual forces, enabling them to share information and ensure that the most appropriate charges are brought.
The link between the CPS and police authorities marks a significant step towards the government's target of a joined-up criminal justice system, according to Attorney General Lord Goldsmith.
"The interface between the CPS and police will help the effective flow of information critical for making decisions about charges and bail," he said.
According to the CPS, it currently has a success rate of 98 per cent in magistrates' courts, and 90 per cent in crown courts.
But Ken McDonald, Director of Public Prosecutions, indicated that improvements in case management would help reduce the number of cases that are delayed and improve victim support.
"This is the first step towards a unified virtual case file, which will have enormous benefits in making sure we have all the necessary information," he said.
The work will complement initiatives being overseen by the Criminal Justice IT team, which is responsible for linking the disparate IT systems.
The CPS has promised to share case file information electronically among criminal justice professionals by 2006. By 31 March 2008, all associated applications will be available to users online.
The Criminal Justice System Exchange, developed by Criminal Justice IT, will help the CPS link to all other justice organisations which have a need for case information.
The CPS has also promised to offer a portal by 2005 so that victims can check on the progress of cases.
The £200m National Case Management System, developed by LogicaCMG, first went live in April 2003. One million new cases have been entered on the system.
It allows CPS lawyers to check whether suspects are known in other areas of the country, aids decisions about bail, and ensures that the greatest possible amount of information can be presented in court.
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