One click from police to justice: Minister Peter Biesenbach and Minister Herbert Reul present the electronic criminal file
The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of the Interior announce:
North Rhine-Westphalia is launching the electronic criminal file. The e-file is currently being gradually introduced in the four pilot authorities in Aachen, Gelsenkirchen, Essen and Wuppertal.
Ministry of the Interior of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

So far, 400 proceedings have been sent digitally. In future, it should be possible to send all criminal proceedings from the police authority to the public prosecutor's office with just one click. The police in North Rhine-Westphalia handle around 1.2 million cases every year.

Since 2018, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior and the State Criminal Police Office have been working together to advance the electronic file in criminal cases. The process is complex due to the numerous parties involved in criminal proceedings, including the police, customs, public prosecutors, courts, juvenile court assistants and defense lawyers.

As part of the project, a step-by-step plan was therefore developed that specifies when which files are to be sent digitally instead of on paper. In October 2020, the e-file was launched for all shoplifting cases involving losses of up to 2,000 euros. Since April 2021, the pilot authorities have also been sending files in proceedings for simple assault by mouse click. Since July 1, the police have also been able to send files in robbery proceedings to the judiciary electronically. So far, the e-file has continued to exist alongside the paper file. From November, only the electronic PDF version will be available in the pilot authorities.

Minister of Justice Peter Biesenbach: "I am very grateful to the employees of my office and those of the Ministry of the Interior for the agreement reached and the intensive cooperation on the introduction of the electronic file in criminal cases. Our joint project, in which we are currently piloting the electronic criminal file at four public prosecutor's offices and four local courts, is the first of its kind in Germany and once again underlines our joint efforts in the state government to be able to act quickly, effectively and successfully in the area of criminal prosecution. The electronic file, with its obvious advantages in terms of speed, scaling and environmental compatibility, is an indispensable component of this in the medium term. It also creates the opportunity for criminal law to increasingly work from home, thereby closing a real shortcoming that has come to light in the current pandemic."

Interior Minister Herbert Reul: "The pilot authorities are gradually working their way from simple criminal proceedings to complex proceedings. So far, shoplifting, assault and robbery can be transmitted electronically as criminal offenses. Complex proceedings such as white-collar crime and child pornography are being planned. It's like tax returns in the past: you no longer have to print out, staple and send them in, but with a click of the mouse the file is at the public prosecutor's office. This makes work much easier for the police. The e-file speeds up criminal proceedings and saves resources."

With the electronic case file, the state government is implementing the "Act on the Introduction of Electronic Case Files in the Judiciary and the Further Promotion of Electronic Legal Transactions". This federal law provides for the mandatory nationwide introduction of electronic case files in criminal cases by December 31, 2025.

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