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Understanding the problem

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is the principal prosecuting agency for conducting criminal prosecutions in England and Wales. Up to 2 million cases go through the Magistrates’ Courts each year and these are dealt with by prosecutors who often handle up to 25 cases per day - a workload that could almost certainly benefit from the advantages a digital service can bring.

The project team was commissioned by the CPS to conduct a Discovery phase to assess and capture the ‘in court’ prosecutor experience and to envisage how service design thinking may improve how information and data is passed between those in court and those who need to process the outcome of what has happened during the hearing.

 

We conducted ethnographic research, attending Magistrates’ Courts across the country to shadow prosecutors and observe real-world scenarios.

 

This research was further supported through a series of in-depth interviews and workshops, allowing us to underpin the research with a thorough understanding of the legal, policy and business processes that prosecutors & CPS admin staff were working within.

 

We established:

 

  • Prosecutors use a MS Word document to record the outcome of a hearing, emailing it to the CPS admin team

  • Hearing records often have missing information and are returned for completion

  • The CPS admin team re-key information into a separate database, swivel-chairing multiple times per day

  • Sheer volume of cases means workloads are unmanageable for all user groups

 

Taking these insights and findings, we;

 

  • Mapped out the end-to-end journeys for various user groups, articulating the quality of the user experience and demonstrating the opportunity for change

  • Created detailed process maps ensuring that business processes and legal requirements were factored into the design thinking being undertaken

  • Created personas and a scenario map for the key user groups, understanding their own needs, pains and gains to inform design thinking

 

Armed with this insight, we proceeded into Alpha. We took the findings and recommendations from Discovery and began to prototype solutions that would address user and business needs.

 

Working with our development partner, CGI, we co-designed with prosecutors taking an iterative approach enabling us to react swiftly to user and stakeholder feedback.

 

Continual testing and validation of ideas enabled the team to rapidly and confidently iterate from paper towards a high fidelity, coded prototype.

 

To stress test the prototype, we looked for opportunities to take the prototype into a real court environment. Whilst this was achievable sometimes, we needed to create a scenario where we could test our designs at pace. So we created a mock court, inviting prosecutors to join us where we conducted scenario-based sessions to test the robustness of the current design.

 

We recorded the sessions and later analysed them to find areas for improvement.

 

The CPS Prosecutor App - as it became known - was successfully piloted in a private beta before being rolled out to all CPS prosecutors within Magistrates Courts.

 

Today it is being used by over 2,000 prosecutors on a daily basis and has been handed to the CPS’s internal teams for continual improvement and integration with wider services.

Information overload

Part of the challenge was making large realms of information usable, findable and intuitive to users who are time poor and often moving quickly from case to case.

We established:

  • Prosecutors use a MS Word document to record the outcome of a hearing, emailing it to the CPS admin team

  • ​​​Sheer volume of cases means workloads are unmanageable for all user groups

  • ​​​​​Hearing records often have missing information and are returned for completion

  • ​​​The CPS admin team re-key information into a separate database, swivel-chairing multiple times per day​​​​​​​​​

​​

Taking these insights and findings, we;

  • Mapped out the end-to-end journeys for various user groups, articulating the quality of the user experience and demonstrating the opportunity for change

  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Created personas and a scenario map for the key user groups, understanding their own needs, pains and gains to inform design thinking

  • ​​​​​Created detailed process maps ensuring that business processes and legal requirements were factored into the design thinking being undertaken

Understanding the problem

Spending time in court with prosecutors enabled the team to contextualise the challenges and design solutions.

Armed with this insight, we proceeded into Alpha. We took the findings and recommendations from Discovery and began to prototype solutions that would address user and business needs.


Working with our development partner, CGI, we co-designed with prosecutors taking an iterative approach enabling us to react swiftly to user and stakeholder feedback.


Continual testing and validation of ideas enabled the team to rapidly and confidently iterate from paper towards a high fidelity, coded prototype.


To stress test the prototype, we looked for opportunities to take the prototype into a real court environment. Whilst this was achievable sometimes, we needed to create a scenario where we could test our designs at pace. So we created a mock court, inviting prosecutors to join us where we conducted scenario-based sessions to test the robustness of the current design.


We recorded the sessions and later analysed them to find areas for improvement.


The CPS Prosecutor App - as it became known - was successfully piloted in a private beta before being rolled out to all CPS prosecutors within Magistrates Courts.


Today it is being used by over 2,000 prosecutors on a daily basis and has been handed to the CPS’s internal teams for continual improvement and integration with wider services.

Services

Service Design
UX Design
Interaction Design

Content Design

User Research

Sectors

Government

Judicial services

Client

Crown Prosecution Service

Partners

CGI

Improving the experience for CPS prosecutors

Developing a service enabling the real-time recording of trial outcomes

The Challenge

Design and develop a service to better enable CPS prosecutors to record the outcome of court hearings, often attending up to 25 cases per day. Support the need for case outcomes to be recorded by a user base with large workloads and little time. Protect the integrity of the data and reduce the need for re-keying information.

The Outcome

A multi-disciplinary, blended team delivered a digital service, accessible in court that enables prosecutors to record the outcome of a case directly into CPS systems, removing the need for rekeying or the risk of handwritten notes being mis-read. Hearing outcomes are recorded and accessible within minutes rather than the previous 1-2 day timeframe.