The DCS Multi-Defendant solution is being rolled out to all Crown Courts between July and September.

This is what is happening…

Key elements: 

For new cases where there is more than one defendant there will be only one DCS file.

·        Some sections where there may be concerns about cross-disclosure between defendants are compartmented so that, for example, a defendant uploading a Defence Statement can decide whether other defendants can see it or not.

·        The compartmented sections (known as restricted sections) for which there are these defence access restrictions are:

o   C: Basis of Plea

o   D: Defence Statement

o   M: Expert Reports

o   N: Previous Convictions

o   Q: Applications

o   T: Sentence

o   U: Representation

o   V: Bail and Custody

o   PD: Private Section – Defence (only visible to defence users)

·        The uploading party can choose how widely the document can be seen and can change that at a later stage if wished.

·        Court staff have the ability to merge existing individual files or separate joint files.  The interface between the DCS and the CPS system means that it is important that court staff and CPS communicate with one another before any case is split or merged.

What does this mean for judges and recorders?

·        The appearance of the DCS will not change – there will just be one file rather than a joint file and series of individual files – so it should be just the same but easier because you will only be working from one file.

·        Keep in mind that documents in the compartmented sections will not be viewable between co-defendants unless the uploader has decided to make them so.

·        This does not affect the PTPH form.

What does this mean for defence representatives?

·        When uploading a document to one of the compartmented sections – for example a Defence Statement – the uploader will be prompted to choose how widely to share it.

What does this mean for the prosecutor?

·        When uploading a document to one of the compartmented sections – for example previous convictions – the uploader will be prompted to choose how widely to share it.

·        Because documents such as a Defence Statement will not automatically be visible to other defendants the prosecutor will have to consider whether they are disclosable to other defendants under the CPIA.

 

When is it coming?

·        Roll out is taking place in four phases from the end of July to September.  This will be done in collaboration between HMCTS and CPS regions.  The DCS team will be in touch with courts and provide information materials.

·        For more information and “How To” guides click on the Guidance tab and go from there to the Training Page. There will also be a range of training materials, events and Skype sessions available as the change is implemented at court.

·        It is not expected that Judges and Recorders will need training on this topic beyond the basic information here. 

What if there is a problem?

·        There have already been successful pilots at Isleworth, Leeds, Sheffield and Southwark but with any substantial change there may still be bugs.  It is really helpful if you inform the DCS team if you encounter a problem on a particular case with brief details of the case reference and nature of the issue.  That enables them to investigate and to identify if the problem is specific to that case or has wider implications.  Please report to  crimeitsupport@justice.gov.uk   (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:30pm)

Further information:

·        Contact crimeitsupport@justice.gov.uk