A grant award worth £1.1million from the Government’s Police Innovation Fund will provide video technology to help fully digitise the criminal justice system in Sussex over the next 18 months.
Detective Superintendent Nick Sloan, said: “All criminal justice services are striving to improve outcomes for victims, which is why partners in Sussex have worked together to develop this bid.
People feel scared and overwhelmed when facing the reality of appearing in court
“The new model is not about simply overlaying video technology on top of the current criminal justice system - it’s about redesigning the way we work locally and using video technology to improve that process. Ultimately it will ensure that vulnerable victims and witnesses will be better cared for.”
Clive Mead is a Sussex Police Witness Care Officer who supports victims and witnesses while their cases are being brought to Court. He said: “I always think “How would I feel if it was me giving evidence in Court?” Understandably, people feel scared and overwhelmed when facing the reality of appearing in Court and this can hang over them until the case is finished, which can take a very long time.
“As a victim or a witness, you need the case to be dealt with quickly and on the day planned so you can move on with your life. Not actually having to go into the court room itself and see the offender will also make the process much easier to cope with.”
The wider use of video technology has the potential to reduce time spent by front-line police officers travelling to and giving evidence in court and reduce risks to public safety as it will minimise the time spent moving offenders to and from prison and allow court hearings to take place whilst defendants are in prison or other secure accommodation.
It will also reduce expenses incurred by interpreters and professional witnesses and improve access to victims, witnesses and offenders for defence solicitors.
It will be of benefit to mental health patients by removing the distress that can be caused by taking them out of a familiar environment and bringing them into court.