A contract to take forward the digital evidence sharing capability of Scottish courts has been awarded by the Scottish Government.

Axon Public Safety UK Ltd will deliver the system to support the new Digital Evidence Sharing Capability service ("DESC"), a programme that will radically overhaul the way evidence is handled and used by the criminal justice system.

The system will transform how evidence is collected, managed and shared, allowing users such as police officers, prosecutors, court staff and defence agents to access evidence digitally in an efficient and user­ friendly way.

Ministers believe the initiative, developed collaboratively by justice partners, has the potential to significantly reduce the costs involved in managing and transporting evidence such as CCTV footage, video interviews and forensic images in physical form.

It will also allow for earlier consideration and disclosure of evidence, leading to quicker resolution of cases and potentially fewer trials, benefitting victims, witnesses, and those accused of crimes.

Data will be held in secure and approved facilities with the necessary certifications for the storage and access of evidential material, the Home Office Police Assured Secure Facilities.

Axon, along with partner organisations, will pilot the system, launching in spring 2022.

Justice Secretary Keith Brown commented: "This is an important step in improving the experience of victims and witnesses in the criminal justice process. It will make a real difference to the time taken for cases to come to court, allowing those involved in criminal cases to move on with their lives sooner.

"Earlier resolution of cases is just one of the benefits this programme will bring. We are also putting in place a modern, forward looking platform that can be used as the basis for further transformation.

“This is an important development as we continue working across the criminal justice system to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, while at the same time creating a modern and resilient system for the future."

Andrew Laing, DESC lead for the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service, added: "The DESC service is an important step in the modernisation of the justice system.

"Sharing of evidence has become more complicated in recent years as digital information is often held in a myriad of formats. The DESC service will allow COPFS to more easily access evidence gathered by the police and share it with the accused and their defence quicker and more efficiently.

"COPFS is committed to working with all partners to ensure the new system provides benefits for all and improves our service to the public.”