Thursday, May 26, 2005

Technology

I would describe myself as being quite able when it comes to technology. In this modern age technology is starting to creep in to all areas of my work. I now get faxed or e-mailed listings from certain Crown Courts instead of them phoning me. I am even able to deal with certificates of trial readiness by e-mail without having to produce a 'wet ink' signed copy.

Things have not yet got to the stage where I have e-mail contacts to liase with members of Court Administration staff or people at the Crown Prosecution Service directly yet. But technology is moving on.

I have a case in which there is some 3,500 hours worth of CCTV evidence. The Prosecution kindly served the CCTV footage in a digital format by putting it on to an external hard drive and serving an external hard drive. I am impressed by this level of service, the only problem is that it has caused problems for solicitors of the co-defendants. After being given permission to copy material from the hard drive some of the solicitors for the co-defendants were completely stumped as to how to copy the material. In fact the trial date was nearly vacated because applications for prior authority to the Legal Services Commission to pay a 'computer man' to copy the material were refused. I found this rather amusing as I am quite able to extract the material and burn it to a DVD myself.

The average age of a criminal solicitor is on the increase as there are fewer and fewer young people entering the field of criminal defence. If the age continues to rise I am starting to wonder if new technology is going to cause problems rather than assist. I am not suggesting that generally the older generation has no idea how to embrace or use new technology but in my experience in this particular case technophobes have caused a problem and those technophobes happen to be the older solicitors!

4 comments:

Law Student said...

I have even seen young solicitors who are technophobes! They seem to think it beneath them to know how to properly work a computer or bang out an e-mail.

Lennie Briscoe said...

The IT system is a load of old cobblers. When I had to goto court as a witness for a police prosecution against an uninsured driver who hit my car, the court date was rescheduled as the accused didn't turn up (possibly due to a clerical error). I was the only person who turned up on the re-scheduled date. I wasn't happy.... I saw the IT system the lady was typing into. It was an old mainframe system with green characters and a black screen. This sort of system became defunct over 10 years ago. The whole criminal justice system from the police to the CPS to social care need to be linked to the same system otherwise nothing will ever work. The problem is that there are too many disconnected systems all with their own seperate data stored locally. This is why the checks done on Ian Huntly from the Soham murders slipped though the net. If only the government got someone who knew what they were doing to implement the countries IT strategy then maybe we would have a bright future...besides I would preffer One Billion pounds to be spent on a national IT system then a: use-once then privatize dome...

Gavin said...

You are right in that there are lots of different IT systems that do not interact. I always hear rumours that new IT systems are going to be available soon to join up the whole criminal justice system - I have not seen it yet. I would guess that the Government are going to spend a lot of money on IT in the next few years, so much so that the spend will probably be bigger than the legal aid budget for criminal defence work.

Another Constable said...

We had the "Integrated Criminal Justice System" in my police force. After about 10 years it has finally been scrapped and replaced with a newer system.

Quite what it was supposed to be integrated with I never quite figured out anyway. It seemed to be stand alone. I think someone just liked the name, but it certainly didn't do what it said on the tin.