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Newly collaborated criminal justice function focuses on bringing offenders to justice more swiftly

A COLLABORATED Criminal Justice department launched by Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary on June 1 will focus on bringing offenders to justice as effectively and efficiently as possible.

The Administration of Justice (AOJ) Unit for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire (BCH) will help ensure that criminal cases are swiftly progressed through the Criminal Justice System (CJS).  Through collaborative working, the three police forces will have a greater overview of all factors relating to case management, ensuring cases are prepared in line with national CJS initiatives.

This oversight, combined with the unit’s role as a point of contact for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), will enable the collaborated team to address any potential issues prior to trial. The changes are expected to help secure more successful outcomes at court and bring about the swiftest possible justice for victims and witnesses.

The new unit also incorporates Witness Care for Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, giving witnesses and victims the support they need at every stage of the Criminal Justice process. Witness Care for Cambridgeshire will continue to be managed within its Victim and Witness Hub.

Chief Constable Alec Wood of Cambridgeshire Constabulary said: “Bringing offenders to justice and ensuring a positive outcome for victims and witnesses in Cambridgeshire is so important. I am confident our new criminal justice model will enable us to deliver the best possible service to our local community.”

The review and alignment of AOJ functions have been based on best practise, resulting in a reduction of hundreds of hours per month in administration functions.  The new unit is expected to help the three forces close the current funding gap by saving £654,000 over the next two years, while providing a better service by operating over extended hours and with no reduction in funding for witness care functions.

Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite said: “I am pleased the Constabulary is building on the success of the first part of this project by beginning the second phase. This will result in further improvements to efficiency.

“It is important that we bring offenders to justice as quickly as possible, while continuing to provide the best support we can to those affected by crime through the Victim and Witness Hub.”

These changes are the second phase of a wider BCH Criminal Justice project, which saw the collaboration of Typing Services, Tape Library functions, Policy and Performance and Virtual Courts in April 2016. This first phase of collaboration is expected to deliver £548,000 in savings.