Criminal Justice IT (CJIT), the organisation charged with joining up computer systems across the justice system, will begin piloting more key projects later this year.
CJIT has the task of linking all criminal justice IT systems by March 2006.
The organisation has already completed the trial of its secure email system in Warwickshire, and over the coming months will extend the pilot to London, the West Midlands, Essex and Lancashire ahead of a national rollout.
One of the challenges for this extended pilot will be to increase the level of usage among solicitors.
The trial in Warwickshire demonstrated that the Secure Email Service built by CJIT worked well in transmitting confidential emails between the criminal justice organisations, said John Suffolk, CJIT managing director.
But lawyers were put off by lengthy documentation and over-prescriptive terms and conditions of use, Suffolk told delegates at last week's Urban Justice Conference in London.
"We were giving people a 90-page document. We've reduced that down to two pages, and our aim is to get it down to one," he said.
CJIT is also developing its Exchange system, which will allow systems such as the Police National Computer (PNC) to share information with systems in the courts and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
A pilot linking the CPS's case management system, Compass, to the PNC will begin this October.
Another pilot, linking the PNC to the Libra system used by the Magistrates' Courts, will kick off before the end of the year.
Without a link between court systems and the PNC, police information was falling behind as convictions were not being updated on the PNC, said one police officer.
"Currently there are several hundred cases yet to get onto the PNC," he added.
Sharing information between systems is relatively straightforward, using XML technologies to ease communications between them, said David Roberts, director of joined-up justice programmes at systems integrator Unisys.
"Where the work needs to be done is identifying what pieces of information need to be shared," he said.
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