Hosted by Holyrood Connect, “Digital Justice Scotland 2017” brought together professionals from various public sector organisations as well as private.

The headline sponsor for the event was AXON. They are a network of devices, apps, and people that helps law enforcement become smarter and safer with their mission to protect life.

The event was chaired by the Right Honourable Henry McLeish.

The conference allowed the opportunity to hear from a host of delegates from various sectors including; COPFS, Police Scotland, Information Commissioners office, Solicitors, Lecturers in Criminology and many more bringing a whole host of wealth and experience to the discussions.

Willie Cowan, Deputy Director for Criminal Justice Division, Scottish Government focused on the digital strategy, ensuring that we are able to realise Scotland’s full potential in a digital world. He stated that it was important to have a Digital Evidence Sharing Capability (DESC.)

The conference thereafter received an input from Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham and Martin Low, Head of ICT Service Delivery, for Police Scotland. They focused on updating the delegates on Policing 2026 and stated that “digitisation of Policing is about people and leadership.” Policing 2026 will be focusing on 5 priorities; protection, prevention, communities, knowledge and innovation. They provided an update on the challenges being faced and where Police Scotland hope to be by 2020. Again they reinforced the message of the previous speaker about having a Digital Evidence Sharing Capability.

The conference thereafter received an input from David Freeland, Senior Policy Officer for the Information Commissioner’s office, Scotland who updated us on the changes ahead for Personal Information in the justice system. Data Protection laws are currently being reformed for the first time in 20 years; introducing law enforcement directives, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The UK Data Protection Bill will be in parliament for 6th May 2018.

The Conference thereafter received an interesting presentation from Jeremy Habberley, UK&I Country Manager for AXON. He updated on the various pieces of technology that are available to Police forces and how they are being rolled out elsewhere. He stated that they have a 10 year goal of cutting report writing time for Police officers by 80%.

The conference thereafter broke out into specific workshops that delegates chose which focussed on specific aspects of digital justice.

Workshop 1 was titled ‘End to End Digital Justice’ and was run by Motorola Solutions. Delegates engaged with speakers mapping out the criminal Justice information management journey from incident to disposal. The speakers updated on an app known as ‘Pronto’ which is the world’s first digital Police notebook system. This input was extremely informative and interesting. An app for modern technology that when used can dramatically reduce time spent report writing and sitting in front of desktops duplicating information.

Workshop 2 was titled ‘Joining up Justice through Enhanced Secure Digital Services’ and was run by Egress Software Technologies. This focused on digital file transfer and collaboration, which is seen as a crucial tactic in delivering end-to-end justice system, but also brings with it considerable risk to data security and disruption to business processes if not managed in a coordinated and structured way. They updated on systems available from them and how these can support justice organisations without jeopardising the security of sensitive data or established working practices.

Keith Dargie, Director of IT, COPFS – thereafter updated on strategic developments of IT to deliver priorities in digital age. He updated on DESC – streamlining processes for capturing, storing and sharing digital evidence. By doing this, they are hoping to support informed decisions and have faster case resolutions via early disclosure to defence agents.

Stuart Munro, Director of Livingstone Brown, stresses importance of improving the criminal justice experience for all users, avoiding churn, delay and inefficiency, and remember what the system is there to do. He hopes for the electronic presentation of evidence soon which would cut down on time spent in cases and allow easier interrogation of evidence.

Dr Hannah Graham, Lecturer in Criminology, at the University of Stirling thereafter updated on electronic monitoring and justice. She provided an overview of current uses and purposes of electronic monitoring in Scottish criminal justice and selected international jurisdictions. She also provided an update / comparison on RF (Radio Frequency tags) – which are the most common used in Scotland and the introduction of GPS electronic monitoring.

Sheena Urwin, Head of Criminal Justice and D.I. Audra Fawcett, of Durham Constabulary updated on the Harm Assessment Risk Tool used in their area and their efforts in using diversion experiments in their area.

The final input of the day was from Danielle House and Rosanna White, Statisticians of the Justice Data Lab, Ministry of Justice. They provided insights into the Justice Data Lab and how they utilise information to help reduce reoffending. They have recently developed a JDL Reducing Reoffending Toolkit, a data science accelerator programme – however this isn’t available in Scotland.

Overall it was a very interesting, informative conference and a very worthwhile experience.