Ontario Building a More Connected Justice SectorPublished on January 19, 2021
The Ontario government is investing in new technology that will enhance the ability for police services to securely capture, store, manage and share digital evidence. The Digital Evidence Management (DEM) program will ensure timely access to evidence, reduce delays and enable police to spend more time investigating crimes and keeping their communities safe.
"This investment will help drive forward our ongoing efforts to modernize Ontario's criminal justice system by transforming the way digital evidence is managed by police and justice partners," said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. "By eliminating the need for sharing and transporting evidence in person, police officers will spend less time carrying out administrative work and more time on what matters most - protecting our communities."
The new Digital Evidence Management program will provide police services with access to cloud-based technology to allow evidence, once physically handled, to be shared securely amongst justice sector partners. It will:
- Provide capacity to capture, store, manage and share large audio and video files, including those recorded and shared through by-stander cell phones, 9-1-1 audio, interview room cameras, dash cams and body-worn cameras, as well as photographs
- Enable police services to securely share digital evidence with Crown attorneys and other police services, eliminating the need to transport multimedia files on USBs and DVDs
- Allow a police service to request help from the public, enabling the public to upload evidence directly to the system in relation to an investigation while remaining anonymous.
The provincial program will be available to provincial enforcement agencies, such as the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the Correctional Services Oversight and Investigations (CSOI) unit and municipal and First Nations police services, helping to create a standardized, digitally connected criminal justice system across Ontario.
Axon Public Safety Canada will be responsible for designing and delivering Ontario's new Digital Evidence Management technology. The company was selected through the province's open and competitive procurement process.
"Criminal investigations and prosecutions have grown more complex as technologies have advanced and criminal activities become increasingly sophisticated," said Doug Downey, Attorney General. "Improving the digital tools and information accessible to Ontario's police and prosecutors is critical to bringing offenders to justice and keeping communities safe."
"Creating a more digitally-connected, modernized justice system is a signature project of the Ontario Onwards Action Plan, which aims to make government programs and services more convenient, reliable, and accessible," said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, Minister of Finance, and Minister Responsible for Digital and Data Transformation. "Today's investment in leading-edge, cloud-based Digital Evidence Management technology will enable police services and their justice sector partners, provincewide, to work more collaboratively and share digital evidence more quickly and securely. Harnessing technology and fostering innovation is what Ontario Onwards is all about."
"Modernizing Ontario's justice system is critically important," said Jeff McGuire, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. The Association continues to work closely with our government and justice partners on the Digital Evidence Management system, which will provide our police services with the ability to store, manage, and share digital evidence with justice partners in a seamless and standardized way and help us better serve communities."
"The implementation of a provincial Digital Evidence Management program is a great step forward in modernizing the way our police personnel members across Ontario are able to access and share case-related content with one another," said Police Association of Ontario (PAO) President Bruce Chapman. "The PAO is confident in the partnership between the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Axon Public Safety Canada to deliver and support this important system, which will improve efficiencies and standardize the way evidence is managed by all policing and justice sector stakeholders."
- The DEM program will be piloted with the Ontario Provincial Police, Correctional Services Oversight and Investigations and municipal police services this winter. The program will begin rolling out across the province following the pilots.
- The new DEM program, along with the new eIntake digital platform, is part of a series of digital initiatives the government is undertaking to build a modern, more connected justice system that is seamless, simple and efficient.
- The DEM program is also part of Ontario Onwards: Ontario's COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government, and is one of the more than 30 projects that will change the way people and businesses interact with government.