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Digital transformation of criminal justice and policing

Taking a fast, practical approach to the urgent need to meet public expectations  

Digital transformation in the public sector

Technology has revolutionised every aspect of our society. The UK Government’s 2022 to 2025 roadmap for digital and data clearly states its plan to ‘transform for a digital future’. 

People expect government services to be as good as the best online experiences in the private sector. Rising to meet these expectations will require change on a scale that government has never undertaken before.”

Paul Willmott, Executive Chair, Central Digital and Data Office.

The long-term ambition is to transform digital public services by leveraging world-class digital technology and systems - but this process will take time, particularly given the vast amounts of currently unconnected information buried in siloed systems..

The complex nature of the policing and criminal justice sector in the UK includes challenges around access to data for decision-making, a swathe of technical debt, and legacy infrastructure. The changes required are fundamental in nature but necessary if the aspiration is to create a service which can function effectively as a joined-up whole, in line with modern societal and budgetary demands.

Success relies on much more than ‘digital transformation’. The sector must adapt to overcome the operational challenges currently hampering user and stakeholder experiences. Not forgetting that ‘stakeholders’ here include the public, whose safety and well-being are at the heart of this service.

Police officer on a horse, guarding Buckingham Palace.

Interoperability, digital experience and the principles of ‘composable’ business

Digital transformation is challenging for all industries and sectors. This challenge is driven as much by a rapidly changing technology environment that brings increasing connectivity and interoperability to business owners as it is by the burning platforms created by legacy technologies, disconnected experiences and expensive, cumbersome, on-premise IT estates.

The latest technologies provide opportunities for interoperability and newly connected experiences. Technologies such as Low Code enable the building of applications up to 20 times faster than via traditional development, thereby quickly creating access to new data views for enhanced decision-making. The latest Digital Experience Platforms from Optimizely and Umbraco enable the orchestration of end-to-end digital experiences that transform how all stakeholders – citizens, colleagues, and front-line teams can engage with information.

Digital policing strategy

The National Policing Digital Strategy sets out a new digital ambition for the service ‘through a set of tangible digital priorities for policing, outlining the key data and technology building blocks required to deliver them’.

This strategy considers the service's internal and external pressures and presents five vital digital ambitions, each with digital priorities to guide focus and investment.

Seamless citizen

Public system approach

Addressing harm

Empowering the private sector

Digital enablement for officers and staff

The Metropolitan Police Service has its own Digital and Data Blueprint and Roadmap, recognising the importance of enabling a consistent and responsive citizen experience to keep London safe for everyone and aims to deliver on its key objectives by building upon strong digital and data foundations.

But it’s not solely the operational/employee function which needs attention. Victim impact is vital. Based on their experience of the Criminal Justice System, only 43% of victims would report a crime again, highlighted in a Modernising Criminal Justice 2022 presentation we attended.

A similar percentage of victims said they would attend court again if asked - but less than 10% felt as though they were supported by the courts or The Crown Prosecution Service, with 58% believing their needs and wishes were not considered, and 66% left feeling that their wait to go to court was too long.

Such experience is mirrored by a trio of challenges identified by HM Courts and Tribunals Service - an antiquated, primarily paper-based, one-size-fits-all system with unnecessarily complicated processes.


As well as these wider strategies, there is a significant focus on rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO) and violence against women and girls (VAWG) within the national policing strategy. The technology industry responds to this via techUK’s justice and emergency services (JES) programme.

Together with colleagues from across the technology sector, Forensic Capability Network (FCN), Police Digital Service (PDS), and the Home Office, CDS is pleased to have become a member of the council for this working group, actively seeking to make a positive difference to this vital initiative.

The key challenges highlighted around VAWG/RASSO by the techUK working group were:

  • Providing an effective service and delivering justice for victims.
  • The ability to extract data from both physical devices and the online world
  • Harnessing the data so it can be used and shared effectively – while ensuring those who need the data understand what it actually means.
  • With 43 police forces comes 43 different ways of doing things.
  • How to use pursue perpetrators and create safer spaces physically and online

Beyond front-line policing, the Crown Prosecution Service’s targets for 2025 look to build confidence in the security of its digital real estate and harness the power of data to drive change while investing in emerging technologies to enhance its digital capabilities. They describe themselves as ‘a leading voice in transforming the criminal justice system, using our legal expertise and digital capability to make the public safer and build the confidence of our diverse communities’.

The Ministry of Justice's digital strategy and challenges

The Ministry of Justice’s Digital Strategy for 2025 outlines its ambition to change the user experience of justice by providing simpler, faster, and better services for everyone. Under this strategy, the department will focus on three key themes - flexibility, data, and user experience - which, once mastered, will help deliver the MOJ’s broader targets of reducing reoffending, providing swift access to justice, and protecting the public.

As a large central government department, the MOJ’s vision to deliver a world-class justice system that works for everyone in society sets the tone for the 34 executive agencies and public bodies which support its function - each with their challenges and agendas. 

A judge holding a gavel in a courtroom.

How to improve digital experiences

Currently, staff are using numerous systems that must be accessed separately to gather/disclose information effectively. This opens room for errors and makes it impossible for users to have a ‘single source of the truth’. 

The lack of connected data and systems manifests itself in slow judicial processes, low satisfaction scores, and victim and witness drop-out - something which must be curtailed to reduce crime rates and make for a safer Britain.

While the challenges might seem vast, the overarching vision underpinning this approach seeks to deliver a seamless encounter for external and internal stakeholders.

Don’t just take our word for it. Gartner identified in its Top Trends in Government for 2022 report that; “By 2023, at least 85% of governments without a TX strategy will fail to transform government services successfully."

As ‘change enablers,’ CDS simplifies complexity to improve outcomes for all stakeholders. Our four key services harness the power of Technical Enablement, Operational Transformation, Experience Transformation and Business Process Outsourcing to create a holistic, future-proofed strategy. 

How can CDS help? 

At CDS, the public sector is in our DNA.

We understand the complex challenges facing the criminal justice and policing sector and have the knowledge, experience, and ability to help solve them.

Investment in the right systems and strategic approach can help police adapt to the rapid evolution of crime throughout the UK.

Here are ways we can help… 

Low-code automation to connect systems

Outdated and siloed legacy technology is one of the most significant barriers to modernising the criminal justice system.

We remove this complexity and connect data sets from the various policing and criminal justice systems using low-code automation powered by the Appian platform. This offers a new, unified 360-degree view of the data, advanced search capabilities, and bespoke user-access settings.

Providing richer insight to the right people at speed makes police forces and ministerial departments more cohesive and efficient. Data is also contextualised, so it becomes valuable intelligence – which can then be used to drive organisation-critical decisions and change at pace.

Low-code business applications developed 20x faster

We can easily integrate the sector’s legacy structures, systems, and processes using Appian and build new applications that deliver powerful business applications up to 20x faster than traditional hand-coded development. 

This also means that value in the form of a minimum viable product (MVP) can be delivered within eight weeks, increasing confidence and decreasing investment risk. While Low Code projects are delivered using Agile methodology, your outcomes are secure with a reduced risk of scope creep and increased confidence in delivering an outcome aligned to your expectations. 

Low code tools like Appian can be used to solve challenges such as:

  • Investigative case management
  • Dynamic decision-making, with systems learning from their data to advise on potential next actions or flags
  • Total Experience – creating a contextual view of multiple data points across back-end and front-end systems for multiple stakeholders
  • Acting as an ‘umbrella’ solution to enable new access to legacy technology systems
A family enjoying a day out together.

Cyber security

UK police forces reportedly faced over 2,000 data breaches in 2020, and it would surprise many people to know just how consistently under attack police digital properties are from bad actors. Cyber security is therefore a key priority considering the amount of personal and sensitive data held across various criminal justice and policing agencies and public bodies.

Working with our partner Cloudflare, we enable the sector to manage cyber security solutions centrally – blocking out malicious activities such as DDoS attacks and keeping information safe from online criminals.

Deploying intelligent automation

We automate manual, time-consuming, and often paper-based tasks – such as daybooks – to empower policing and justice professionals to focus on higher-value activities and remove human error.

One intelligent interface with connected data sets removes the admin headache associated with disparate outdated systems and platforms – avoiding data de-duplication while creating an enhanced user experience.

Intelligent automation enables operational efficiencies and streamlines front-end experience – allowing for in-field working and access to the data and systems staff need, wherever they are, from multiple devices.

De-risking and enhancing resilience

We know data safety is vital. Our solutions apply security by design as standard, offering resilience and maximum uptime.

We also develop systems using flexible, low-code solutions – enabling rapid development without the need for lengthy traditional computer programming. This enables the policing and criminal justice sectors to be more agile and accelerates digital transformation.

With system changes happening quickly and without delays, the sector can easily keep up with changes in legislation and ever-changing requirements.

The drag-and-drop nature of low code also increases the criminal justice and policing sector’s self-sufficiency – both operationally and financially. Staff can quickly be trained, and new functionality can be deployed without relying on a development team.

As a result, this user-centred and iterative approach to technology de-risks spending minimises the impact on staff and enhances efficiency.

Case studies 

The future of policing.

We helped to deliver the most significant change in UK policing since the 999-emergency number was rolled out across the UK in 1976.

The client wanted a single digital platform for all UK police services to provide nationally consistent, locally branded police services, brought together in a single ‘digital police station’, and for the experience to be as friendly as approaching a bobby on the beat.

This project tied into one of the critical ambitions within the National Policing Digital Strategy – seamless citizen experience – giving users more choices on how they engage with the police service, using the channels, media, and devices most relevant to them.

We used Optimizely (formerly Episerver) software, expertise and modular solutions developed for the Metropolitan Police Service website project to launch SOH while extending the platform with new core services and providing strategy, leadership, and service delivery services 24/7.

Police officer looking at a crowd of people

Major incident communications.

ResilienceDirectTM is a secure platform now being used by 60,000 emergency services personnel to coordinate and manage more than 3,000 major incidents.

Our Collaborate platform is fully-customisable and can hold unique content pages and document repositories. Each subject can be assigned to individual security groups and parameters, allowing for the strict control of information, it's transference, and the structure needed when handling major incidents.

A paramedic looking straight on whilst another paramedic works in the ambulance behind.

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