Improve computer technology for remote evidence
The Police and Crime Commissioner has a statutory responsibility to work with Criminal Justice System (CJS) partners to ensure an efficient and effective justice system locally.
One of the PCC’s ambitions relates to the ability for witnesses, particularly the most vulnerable, to be able to give evidence remotely in a more supportive setting than the courtroom itself.
The Dorset Remote Live Link (DRLL) has been live for more than three years and continues to provide a safe environment for the most vulnerable witnesses and victims when providing evidence at both Magistrates and Crown Court.
National evidence supports the use of DRLL which enables vulnerable witnesses to give their best evidence by providing a safe, secure environment with people eg family, friends and Witness Service volunteers, to support them. As a result court proceedings are more likely to go ahead and the witnesses are more likely to be able to complete their evidence.
A working group meets regularly to ensure processes are fit for purpose and discuss ways to improve the service. The most recent initiative is the introduction of the Witness Service Volunteer Pack.
This was produced by the Witness Service and provides the volunteer with all the guidance they need to ensure they are familiar with their support role, including signposting witnesses to additional help and support.
The PCC has pursued improvements in this area via attendance at the Dorset Criminal Justice Board and through ongoing liaison between CJS partner agencies and staff within the OPCC.
On 13 May 2019, a member of the Police & Crime Panel Member carried out a ‘spotlight scrutiny’ review of this commitment, along with related commitments. Their comment states:
“There is good evidence that the investment of equipment, IT and staff has made a difference in how witnesses and victims can provide evidence. With the additional support provided by the Witness Care Team and the efficiencies gained from freeing up police officer time the review has established that this has been money well spent.
"The use of video enabled technology to assist police in other functions (interviews, Inspector Reviews etc.) has also made a difference in reducing officer time in travel and in turn efficiently deliver elements of the detention process.
“The current response by the police in how defendants are managed is a pragmatic response that is efficient, effective and economical.”