Prosecution service struggling with “catastrophic” IT failures


Prosecuting lawyers say they have been struggling for years with IT problems that leave them unable to prepare cases properly or file requests for court orders.

A message on the public prosecution service’s intranet, seen by NRC, acknowledged there were longstanding problems with the performance of its digital services.

The service said there were “concerns about the effect of these disruptions in the IT service on colleagues’ workload.” It added: “The problems are also affecting the attainability of our ambitions to accelerate processing times and reduce the caseload.”

Prosecutors told NRC they were often unable to send or receive emails or open digital case files when the system freezes. “We have to improvise during hearings because we’re unable to access our own documents while the case is in court,” one said.

“It’s been catastrophic for some time and is only getting worse,” a senior prosecutor remarked.

Wiretaps expire

Another issue is the processing of court orders such as requests to extend surveillance orders or take psychiatric patients into institutional care.

The documents have to be signed online through Outlook and a digital signing hub that uses facial recognition, but both systems are prone to going down, one prosecutor said. “That creates a risk that something like an extension for a wiretap is submitted too late, which means the tapped line is ended.”

Some staff have taken to working on case files at the weekend, when the system is less overburdened, according to the message on the intranet. It added that services such as the internal e-mail system were “significantly worse than a while ago.”

Managers have now set up a digital task force to tackle the problems and “give users perspective regarding the instability of the digitalisation of the workplace”.

A spokesman told NRC that the service was working hard to modernise its software and hardware, but the issues were “complex”.

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