Modernising the court results system for Ministry of Justice

We modernised the Bichard 7 application for the Criminal Justice Secure Exchange (CJSE), increasing maintainability and refactoring the code.

The project

The Bichard 7 application was developed to receive information about the outcomes of court hearings and to add this to the Police National Computer. Although it is important software, there had been no code changes or new deployments to production for some years. Therefore the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) wanted to modernise the application, increase its maintainability and prepare it to be replatformed.

Photo showing the Central Criminal Court building in front of a blue sky
Photo showing a policeman working at a desk with three computer monitors

Our approach

The original application had been built by IBM but then moved to another support provider. As a result, when we began working on the application, it was clear that no-one understood how the code worked. Therefore our initial approach focused on understanding the codebase and documenting how and why the application worked as it did.

In order to get the application to a maintainable baseline, we started by replatforming the existing IBM stack on AWS, using test harnesses to verify that the behaviour had not regressed. This involved using Terraform to implement an Infrastructure as Code pipeline, which meant we could boot up the Bichard 7 application with a single command in Docker.
This allowed us to test the old artifact in production, while ensuring that all we had done was documented in the code.

Mapping the data landscape laptop

“Our users need fast, modern technology they can rely on so they can do their important work.”

Tom Read, Chief Digital and Information Officer for the Ministry of Justice

The results

The documentation and automation work we undertook turned an application that had handwritten notes for deployment into version controlled software that could be deployed to testing environments with a single command. As a result, the Bichard 7 application is maintainable, has a robust disaster recovery plan in place and is ready for the next stage of replatforming.

  • Understood and documented legacy code
  • Replatformed the IBM stack on AWS
  • Refactored codebase for maintainability
  • Established Infrastructure as Code pipeline
  • End-to-end testing including test harnesses
  • Boot up via a single command in Docker
  • Version controlled software
  • Ready for further replatforming
  • Disaster recovery plan in place

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