The Dubai Public Prosecution building. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Paperless arrest and search warrants issued by Dubai Public Prosecution witnessed an 8 per cent decline last year, compared to 2019, due to restrictions over the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 6,650 smart search and arrest warrants were issued last year compared to 7,215 warrants in 2019.

According to Dubai’s Attorney General Essam Issa Al Humaidan, the smart search and arrest warrant application that was launched seven years ago has given a strong boost to law enforcement procedures in the emirate.

The initiative allows prosecutors to electronically sign and issue search and arrest warrants against offenders. “It’s a giant leap in law enforcement procedures that saves time and effort and accelerates arrests, which help obtain and also preserve evidence from being tampered with. It is a smart and modern technology in serving justice by facilitating police work,” said Al Humaidan.

The smart service was rolled out on a trial basis in 2014 and was restricted to cases related to narcotics consumption only. In 2016, the trials were extended so that it included all sorts of cases involving drugs.

By 2017, the smart procedure was implemented at all prosecution offices and police stations in the emirate. More than 25,600 smart warrants were issued between 2017 and 2020 with 75 per cent of them issued in drug-related cases.

Before it was implemented, policemen had to go through six steps to have search and arrest warrants issued, which involved manually filling up, printing out and signing a request for prosecutors to issue a warrant. Officers were required to take the request themselves to get it signed by a prosecutor before heading back to the station or the force’s main offices.

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“The steps were reduced to only submitting the request by the officer through the smart application, which was then sent to the police online. The service made it easier and faster to boost the judicial system,” Al Humaidan explained.

This digital transformation reduced the time for issuing a warrant to 16 minutes, from what used to take 150 minutes in the past.