The lack of joined up IT systems across the 43 polices forces in England and Wales is hampering the ability to improve and enhance the UK's criminal justice system, according to the UK's minister for policing and criminal justice, Nick Herbert.
Speaking at the Modernising Justice conference in London on Thursday, Herbert said that while there had been some IT success stories in the past recent, such as the creation of the Police National Computer (PNC), there is still much that needs improving.
"From my position as the minister responsible for police and justice I do find that the overall state of IT and technology in our criminal justice system leaves a great deal to be desired," he said.
"Across the 43 police forces there are some 2,000 different IT systems in operation. Too often operating in silos, each with their own processes and IT systems, has led to a poor experience for criminal justice professionals and this results in a poor experience for the public."
He cited an example of an attempt to link crime mapping data hosted on the police.uk website with information from courts' IT systems proved far harder than expected because the two could not talk to one another.
"In the end a complicated algorithm had to be written that could work out where the records matched [between the systems]. It was a very revealing insight into the fragmented nature of IT in the criminal justice system," he added.
However, Herbert said the government could not expect to spend their way out of this problem as previous administrations attempts to do this had proven large-scale IT projects rarely had the desired outcomes.
"The story was one of Big Bang IT projects to try and solve these problems but they've not been tremendously successful. The government's record in such projects is hardly shining," he said.
"Even in era where we had rapidly rising spending on public sector projects we still ended up with poor systems and dislocation in the criminal justice system."
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