This circular is available in PDF format here.
Scottish Executive Justice Department Circular: JD/10/2006
15 June 2006
ISCJIS - CRIMINAL HISTORY INFORMATION
This letter is to update you with developments in respect of the Integration of Scottish Criminal Justice Information Systems (ISCJIS) agenda with particular regard to criminal history information and to alert you to the forthcoming closure of the Stirling Criminal Convictions Enquiry Unit.
The ISCJIS programme aims to bring benefits to the Scottish criminal justice system by automating information sharing and exchange between the various agencies within the system. The objective of the programme is to facilitate communication between the IT systems of the various criminal justice organisations, so that agreed information can be passed electronically form one organisation to another, saving repeated data entry, increasing speed and improving quality (both of the data and the service provided), without sacrificing confidentiality.
Recent ISCJIS work has focussed on establishing direct electronic links between local authorities and Scottish Criminal Record Office (SCRO) to provide for criminal history information by return. At the most recent series of seminars held in late March it was reported that approximately 12 authorities had or were on the point of successfully establishing such links. The workload of these authorities represents approximately 45% of the annual volume of Social Enquiry Reports submitted nationally to courts. On the basis of this progress but to allow remaining authorities sufficient time to establish SCRO links, it has been decided to withdraw the service currently provided by the Criminal Convictions Enquiry Unit at Stirling with effect from 31 December 2006 .
The closure of the CCEU will mean that from January 2007 the only means of obtaining criminal history information for SER purposes will be through the direct electronic links authorities have in place with SCRO. It is therefore vital that those authorities currently without such links take early action to ensure that such arrangements are in place before the end of December if they are to avoid a situation of being unable to include criminal history information within SER reports.
Experience to date suggests that direct electronic SCRO links allows significant operating benefits for SER authors by providing early access to criminal history information. It has also been found that electronic submission of completed SERs to courts can also produce worthwhile benefits particularly in situations where there is a danger of the report not reaching the court within agreed timescales. This does, of course, require prior agreement with local sheriffs.
The focus of the March seminars was to disseminate the findings of the recent South Lanarkshire pilot for electronic request of SERs by the Scottish Court Service (SCS) and return electronically of completed SERs. This requires a significantly more complex process than establishing direct SCRO links and electronic submission of completed SERs. SCS are currently piloting their new IT system in advance of anticipated full national roll-out, which means that their capacity to support any authority interested in putting in place similar arrangements to South Lanarkshire will be highly restricted. One of the key benefits of the new SCS IT system when fully implemented will be its ability to generate electronically not only the SER request but also a copy of the final amended complaint. This will avoid a necessity for authorities to put in place separate systems with Crown Office to obtain the latter information.
Should you need any further information or advice please contact Sheena Maclaren of the ISCJIS team on 0131 244 2513 or Maurice Williams on 0131 244 5439.