Justice IT projects roll-on

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The modernisation of the criminal justice system is under way, and certain phases will be completed by December, says the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

The department says live scan solutions will be rolled out to 50 police stations and the use of technology in crime-fighting initiatives will be enhanced by the end of this year. The full implementation plan for the utilisation of integrated DNA/AFIS facial and iris recognition will be developed by December.

The initiative will result in the application of technology solutions aimed at reducing costs and automating paper-intensive systems.

The department also notes that user requirements and design specifications for the national criminal justice system will be completed and approved by December. The specifications for forensics and biometrics systems between Home Affairs, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other departments will be ready by October 2009.

“The electronic flow of case data is important in the modernisation of the criminal justice system,” it said in a statement.

In June, the department allocated R3 billion for IT projects and emphasised the importance of IT in the judicial system. The department noted it would make additional investments in IT infrastructure. The budget would be spent on IT infrastructure, hardware renewal, network infrastructure, data security, and the expansion and roll-out of information systems.

It says a progress report on the integration of the Crime Administration System, used by the SAPS, and the department's Integrated Case Management System will be available in October.

Plans for the interoperability of various systems and progress reports on the automatic notification system from the SAPS to the Legal Aid Board will be completed by December.

Bills, Bills, Bills

The department notes the implementation of the approved Criminal Law (Forensics Procedure) Amendments Bill also remains a priority. It says the Bill will be processed before Parliament by October.

The proposed legislation would allow for the creation of an extensive DNA profiling system with the aim of strengthening the police service's crime-fighting initiatives. The amendment Bill provides for the expansion of the SAPS's powers to take and retain fingerprint and DNA samples.

It also allows for the establishment, administration and use of a DNA database as a criminal intelligence tool. The profiling system would be linked to the Department of Home Affairs' Hanis system and Department of Transport's eNatis system.

The Protection of Personal Information Bill, which was recently approved by Cabinet to go before Parliament, is expected to be processed by Parliament by December. The SA Law Commission has been drafting the Bill since 2000 and issued the first discussion paper in 2003.

The legislation is aimed at helping protect people from criminals by holding companies and individuals, who fail to take adequate steps to protect other people's private information, legally liable.

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