Freedom of Information: COPFS Case Management System (R010137)
“I would like to make a Freedom of Information request for information relating to the live operational case management system, it’s structure, how many staff are involved in maintaining it, it’s costs per year for the past three years and any reviews conducted on it’s operation in the past three years”.
You have asked for information relating to the electronic case management system operated by COPFS. The system consists of several electronic systems that are used together to manage casework in COPFS in respect of which COPFS holds a wide variety of information.
As you may be aware, the Court of Session judgment – Glasgow City Council and Dundee City Council v Scottish Information Commissioner  CSIH 73 (issued on 30 September 2009) – clarified that the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) gives a right to information, not documents, and that information requests must identify the information sought. A request is not valid if it does not, in accordance with section 8(1)(c) of FOISA, describe the information requested. As your request is a general one for information relating to a electronic case management in COPFS it does not reasonably clearly identify the particular information you are looking for. In terms of the 2002 Act and the Court of Session decision we are therefore not obliged to respond to it.
However, in attempt to be helpful we are able to provide you with a general description of our electronic case management systems and if you wish to rephrase your request to clearly describe the information you are looking for, rather than simply “information”, we would be able to consider your request and respond in accordance with FOISA. If you need any further advice and assistance to rephrase your request, please do not hesitate to contact me.
1. “Live operational case management system”
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) case management systems provide live, operational databases designed to meet COPFS business needs for the processing of all charges reported to COPFS for consideration of prosecutorial action, by Police Scotland and Specialist Reporting Agencies, and the structured storage of other prosecution service case related information.
COPFS holds all operational data needed for business purposes; for example, to prepare court documentation; to send and receive electronic information regarding court appearances and results; to cite witnesses; to deal with disclosure of information to the defence etc.
2. “Its Structure?”
The COPFS case management systems are managed through an IT infrastructure centred around an enterprise Oracle relational database management system, operating on an AIX operating system platform, containing information about each case from initial report to COPFS from Police Scotland or other criminal investigation agency through to disposal, including steps in preparation if there is to be a court appearance. COPFS digital information is shared via a number of external electronic connections: a system linking to Police Scotland, via which crime reports are received, electronic information about prosecutorial decisions on charges is reported and some case preparation activities are all exchanged; and, a system linking to the Scottish Court and Tribunal Service (SCTS), which notifies SCTS of the intended initial calling of a case before a court and by which the SCTS systems then automatically update the COPFS database with the results of all court appearances. Information regarding pending and final outcomes following decisions by prosecutors and courts is also passed electronically to the Criminal History System operated by the Scottish Police Authority.
COPFS primarily interacts with the data stored in its Oracle database via the bespoke Future Office System (FOS) front-end application. FOS, which is designed on three-tier systems architecture, is developed using Java and other appropriate software to meet COPFS’ ongoing and changing business needs. Other internal systems applications interfaces are also used to meet COPFS’ business needs. For example COPFS also has a Secure Disclosure of evidence System (SDS) website application in place to electronically disclose evidence to the defence. COPFS’ corporate and non-case related information are stored, maintained and accessed separately from its operational case management systems, although all are delivered via COPFS’ corporate IT infrastructure.
3. “How many staff are involved in maintaining it?”
The COPFS case management system consists of business applications that are fully integrated and delivered from COPFS’ corporate IT infrastructure. COPFS employs two full-time applications developer staff to support the main FOS application. The wider case management system functions are maintained by COPFS’ Information Systems Division (ISD) which currently consists of the equivalent of 42.4 full time posts with annual salary cost of £1.7 million.
While our aim is to provide as detailed information as possible, it is not possible to provide a breakdown of the staff resource involved in specifically supporting the case management systems as maintenance is undertaken as part of the support of COPFS’ overall IT corporate systems. All COPFS staff involved in legal decision making and case preparation and processing work input and maintain information held within the case management system; as COPFS staff are involved in wide-ranging work activities to meet COPFS business needs, it is not possible to quantify the specific numbers or cost of operational staff involved in maintaining the case related information contained in the operational case management system.
4. “Its costs per year for the past three years?”
As the COPFS case management systems are fully integrated with the COPFS corporate IT network and services, it is not possible to provide a breakdown of the IT infrastructure and associated costs relating specifically to maintaining the case management systems. It is possible to identify that direct support costs for supporting the core FOS application amount to £348,000 per annum.
5. “Any reviews conducted on its operation in the past three years?”
COPFS continually assesses its case management systems to ensure they meet current business needs for the processing of all reported criminal cases and that related information is accessible and managed effectively.
In addition our Auditors review our approach to IT management and digital delivery.
Audit Scotland published a report in August 2012, Managing IT Contracts, an audit of three public sector programmes which included a review of the COPFS Phoenix programme. This involved the design and build of a new case management system, supply of related hardware, data migration and training which was intended to completely update our IT systems. We terminated that programme in 2010, due to correctly anticipating significant reductions in our capital budget as a direct result of the overall reduction in public sector finances, which meant that it was no longer affordable to proceed. However we have used many of the products that had been delivered to improve our existing systems. The report can be found on the Audit Scotland website at www.audit-scotland.gov.uk.
In addition, The Scottish Government’s Internal Audit Division who act as our internal auditors reviewed our Case Management arrangements in 2014 and reported their findings to our Audit and Risk Committee. Their report was positive and their recommendations have either been implemented or are in the course of being implemented.