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NSW Justice ramps up courtroom digitisation

by Poppy Johnston •
Free resource

Topics: Software; IT Services; Digital Transformation; NSW.

The replacement of an ailing recording and transcription system with an improved technology-based solution is the next step in the New South Wales Department of Justice’s broad reform agenda, which recieved $570 million over four years in the 2016-17 Budget.

NSW Justice is currently seeking information from suppliers to help transition its current recording, monitoring and transcription model, which in some instances relies on manual processing, to a predominantly or fully digital system.

The current model was defined decades ago, and no formal efforts have been made to determine the suitability of the system for modern day proceedings.

In the current system, courtroom proceedings are captured with digital audio recorders or by court reporters. Official transcripts are then manually produced from these recordings on request.

Justice has also previously trialled a user-pays model for reporting and transcription services in Supreme Court civil proceedings “to lower costs, reduce delays and increase availability of transcripts for clients and users”, according to the 2014-15 Annual Report.

According to the Request for Information (RFI), changes to resourcing, technology and demand is straining the current system and leaving transcription requests unmet, which is disrupting court proceedings.

NSW Justice also intends to make the process of ordering transcription services easier to locate and navigate.

Respondents may propose solutions for individual sections of the RFI, or an end-to-end solution. The RFI closes on 9 August 2016.

$570 million was allocated in the 2016-17 budget over four years to support comprehensive reform across the justice system, prompted by growing demand and complexity of the system, including longer trials and growing prison populations. The NSW Government is looking to alleviate pressure on courts and prisons, and align the court system with community expectations.

According to budget papers, leveraging technology is a critical component of the reforms. An “overarching strategy” to modernise legal processes and court systems is currently in development.

NSW Justice’s modernisation drive began in 2014, when $81.9 million from the 2014-15 budget was invested in technology to modernise courtroom processes.

Other ICT upgrades at Justice include a $4.2 million jurors’ system which streamlines the courtroom process. Attorney General Gabrielle Upton said in 2015 that the savings in time which have resulted from the system have exceeded all expectations.

“What was once a cumbersome and labour intensive process is now quick and effective, resulting in a faster and more accessible justice system,” she said.

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