Research in the name of the law: creating a legal resource ‘One Stop Shop’ and case law database for Queensland police prosecutors

ALIA Library

Nurthen, Katrina

ALIA Information Online 2017 Conference, 13-17 February 2017 Sydney: Data Information Knowledge
[Peer reviewed] This conference paper discusses the development of a case law database for Queensland police prosecutors.
Abstract: What can you get when you mix a time-poor police prosecutions unit, a team of committed librarians and a technology initiative dedicated to improving prosecution practice and efficiency? As QPS Library Services has discovered, actually, many great things! In partnership with the Queensland Police Service (QPS) Prosecution Corps, Library Services has redeveloped an existing information portal into a ‘one stop shop’ for all police legal resources, including a custom-made case law database which enables information access and sharing across prosecution units. This paper will share the story of our partnership with the QPS Prosecution Corps, and the evolution of the Case Law Database as a statewide data and information tool.
Since 1991, QPS Library Services has enjoyed a close working relationship with the QPS Prosecution Corps, providing information resources, research services and training support. There are around 270 prosecutors across Queensland, handling approximately 95% of all criminal matters in the Queensland Magistrates Courts. The prosecutors work in a busy environment that is unpredictable and time sensitive. They rely on experience, informed practice and research to guide their decision making. This is where Library Services is able to provide the most support. Since the advent of the QPS ProsTech Initiative in 2013, we have been able to leverage off an increased connection to technology in order to provide greater access to information at point of need.
The ProsTech Initiative was developed by QPS Legal Services to investigate new capabilities for prosecutors within the court room, including secure access to QPS systems utilising the Queensland Government’s Public Safety Network. The first stage of the initiative saw a rollout of laptops to prosecutors throughout the state to enable mobile access to information and systems wherever they may be. Working in partnership with the ProsTech project team, Library Services developed a ‘one stop shop’ for prosecutors: a single point of access for legal resources, case law, reference materials, manuals and more. The ‘one stop shop’ enables seamless access to legal information resources via QPS laptops from within the court room, a functionality not available to police prosecutors in other states.
As part of the ‘one stop shop’, a customised in-house database of frequently used legal cases was also created using the Library’s SirsiDynix Symphony and Enterprise software. Cases were hand-picked for inclusion by Library staff and QPS prosecutors across the state and catalogued by a dedicated librarian over a 1 year period. The Case Law Database currently holds over 1000 cases with metadata specifically of interest to QPS Prosecutors. It has allowed for a huge knowledge gap to be filled as it includes cases not available in other commercial databases. It has also enabled greater information and knowledge sharing across regional units, while preventing duplication of resources and potential breaches of copyright by individual teams saving copies of case law locally.
The ProsTech Initiative, including the ‘one stop shop’, was a finalist in the QPS 2015 Awards for Excellence. 

Deakin, ACT: Australian Library and Information Association
Queensland Police Library Services