South West Wales Councils go paperless

South West Wales Shared Services Group, the body for one of the Principal Areas of Wales, has deployed Citrix ShareFile at Swansea Civil and Family Justice Centre to share millions of case documents securely with different agencies, to speed proceedings for child wellbeing.

Swansea Civil and Family Justice Centre hears child care cases for the Counties in southwest Wales – Bridgend, City and County of Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Powys, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Neath and Port Talbot. It’s shared services group participates in a shared Legal Portal through Citrix ShareFile.

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For each hearing, all parties share case information in a “court bundle,” which traditionally is a set of lever arch files, each containing around 350 sheets of paper. Each file must be paginated, indexed, copied, and distributed, usually by courier, to all the parties involved: the judge, solicitors and barristers, parents and guardians, doctors and other experts. Subsequent amendments or additions must then be managed for all copies and parties throughout the case.

The time and cost of administration were enormous. Missing or inconsistent pages could delay hearings, and security was a big concern because physical documents are easily lost or stolen. As such, the South West Wales Shared Services Group worked together with Swansea Civil and Family Justice Centre to choose Citrix ShareFile – digitising case bundles and creating the South Wales Shared Services Portal.

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Gawain Williams, Carmarthenshire County Council Childcare Solicitor said: “Our ShareFile portal has changed the way we work. Because it sits in the cloud, it’s available and up-to-date 24 hours a day. Barristers work in the middle of the night; judges read court papers on the weekends when they’re not in hearings, so having access to a live, shared bundle is extraordinarily important. Judges are already saying they don’t need paper bundles so much. Instead of bringing 15 lever arch files to court, we can simply bring a laptop.”

Embracing future of work, going paperless

The digital solution deployment has reduced time and costs, and sped up workflows: with ShareFile, Swansea has reduced photocopying by 84%. Before ShareFile, the team were making a million copies per year. By sharing everything electronically, admin time is significantly reduced, and there are now millions of documents online—comprised of terabytes of data.

Immediacy, improved workflow and speed: now, any time there’s an update to a case bundle, it’s available immediately. Each party in the case always has the same view, and cases are no longer delayed because of disputes over mismatched files.

Encryption and granular control ensure confidentiality and security: ShareFile’s granular level of permission controls has enabled Swansea Civil and Family Justice Centre to expand the roles that have access to bundles.

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With the correct authorisations, independent social workers and medical experts can have access to appropriate individual documents, such as medical records. The portal team is also using features that discourage copying or printing to litigants in person.

Darren Fields, regional director, UK & Ireland, Citrix said: “The future of work is collaborative and paperless. Cloud technologies from Citrix such as ShareFile are integral to digital transformation, and can make an enormous impact in a variety of industries. South West Wales Shared Services Group is giving a multitude of employees and third party agencies the tools to work more smartly, securely and productively, whilst significantly reducing costs.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...