What is Secure eMail?
Secure eMail is a safe, efficient alternative to regular email, fax and post. When you hit the send button on your Secure eMail, the information contained in it is encrypted, so it can only be read by your intended recipient. By contrast, regular emails can be fairly easily intercepted and read by just about anyone.
The Secure eMail service is an important part of the process of joining up the Criminal Justice System (CJS) in England and Wales. It allows people working across the CJS who choose to participate, to send emails containing 'RESTRICTED' (i.e. sensitive data), in a secure way. For the first time, it's made it possible for these key groups of people to send emails securely to each other.
Who are the Criminal Justice Organisations (CJOs)?
In this context, the term 'Criminal Justice Organisation' refers to organisations that are connected to Government secure networks, including GSI, GSX or CJX. These are: the Police; Crown Prosecution Service; Magistrates' Courts; Crown Courts; and the National Offender Management Service. Because Youth Offending Teams (YOTS) are not connected to Secure eMail, for technical purposes Youth Offending Teams are regarded as Criminal Justice Practitioners.
Who are Criminal Justice Practitioners (CJPs)?
We use the term Criminal Justice Practitioner to mean any person or organisation working in the Criminal Justice System, who isn’t connected to a Government secure network. This includes: defence solicitors; Youth Offending Teams; barristers and victims and witnesses groups.
What does 'RESTRICTED' mean?
This is a Government-wide term that is used to refer to sensitive information which, if it became widely available, could cause personal or financial harm.
The Secure eMail service can handle material up to and including anything marked RESTRICTED, or its equivalent in the non-Government Protective Marking System world, such as PRIVATE, COMMERCIAL IN CONFIDENCE, or COMPANY CONFIDENTIAL.
If information is marked as 'RESTRICTED,' care should be taken to ensure that it is handled and stored appropriately. As a rule of thumb, anything you receive through Secure eMail should be treated as RESTRICTED.
How does Secure eMail work?
Criminal Justice organisations already have Secure eMail systems (GSI, GSX and CJX) which are part of the Government Secure Community. They can send and receive sensitive information through these systems. Such organisations don't have to do anything to ensure that they are connected to the Secure eMail service, as this connects directly into - and is accredited by - the Government Secure Community.
Criminal Justice Practitioners are not a part of this secure community, it falls to the Secure eMail service to provide the technology to encrypt the contents of an email when they send it. This encryption ensures that the email, if intercepted, will be unreadable. Once the email reaches its destination it will be decrypted so that the intended recipient can read it.
For more information about what practitioners may have to do to connect to the Secure eMail service, download a copy of our Secure eMail Technical FAQs factsheet.
How easy is it to get connected?
It can take as little as five minutes to complete the online application procedure for Secure eMail. We will ask you some basic information about your computer system, so that we can see whether it is compatible with Secure eMail. We will also ask you to read our terms and conditions.
You can then choose between two types of connection. Option one is to have a Secure eMail server connection put onto your office server. This will automatically give everyone in the office access to Secure eMail, just by logging onto your office network. It can take up to 10 days to put this option in place.
Option two is a mailbox connection, which will use your current internet connection to give you access to the Secure eMail server, in the same way as a yahoo or hotmail account. This can be up and running within 48 hours of your application.
How much technical knowledge do I need to fill in the online application?
If you want to be connected to Secure eMail through your own office server, we will need some technical details about your current computer system. These are clearly listed at the start of the online application procedure, so you will know exactly what information we need from you before you start your application.
If you are applying for a mailbox account, you won't need to give us any technical information at all.
What will I do differently if I'm using Secure eMail?
If you work in a Criminal Justice organisation and send an email to someone working in another Criminal Justice organisation with an email addresses containing .gsx, .gsi or .pnn, you don't need to do anything different. All emails between organisations that already belong to the Government Secure Community, like these, are secure.
If you work in one of these organisations and want to send an email to somebody outside the Government Secure Community who is connected to Secure eMail, you will need to look up their Secure eMail address in the Secure eMail Directory.
When you send a message to their Secure eMail address, your email will be routed and automatically returned via a secure route. This allows criminal justice practitioners to send emails securely, and work more effectively with Criminal Justice organisations. For convenience, users can copy any frequently-used addresses into their own list of contacts.
When is Secure eMail available?
Secure eMail is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When any planned maintenance work is required, it will take place outside normal working hours and by prior arrangement. The Secure eMail website will carry full information about any future planned maintenance, and will be updated on a regular basis.
What happens if the system goes down?
In the event of any system failure, emails will either be held in a queue or will just sit in mailboxes until the service is recovered. Users within Criminal Justice organisations should report any problems to their own service provider's helpdesk, as they do now.
Where do users get help?
Any users working in a Criminal Justice organisation should follow their existing procedures for reporting a fault.
Criminal justice practitioners can contact the CJS Secure eMail helpdesk (iDesk) on weekdays from 8 am to 7 pm, by calling: 0870-0108535, or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
User guides which explain how CJPs can connect to, and use the service are also available. (See the Secure eMail Technical FAQs factsheet).
How can users know who else is using Secure eMail?
Secure eMail users can find details of other users in the online Secure eMail Directory. They can also update their own details to ensure that the Directory remains accurate.
Organisations who have an SMTP, or server, connection, and Criminal Justice Organisations will decide for themselves how to make the Directory available to their employees, but they can choose from the following options:
- through a 'look-up' facility in each user's email account, which enables them to access the directory on the web
- directly from the Secure eMail portal on the web
- by copying the directory onto their own global directory, so it is accessible from a user's email account in the normal way
- via applications such as an Excel spreadsheet.
How do I nominate a colleague to join Secure eMail?
If you have a colleague who you think might be interested in connecting to Secure eMail, you can click here to send them an email invitation now. We will then send them an email explaining about Secure eMail, and inviting them to sign up.
Where can I find more information?
For more information on Secure eMail, fill out our register interest form on this website