“Joined-Up Justice”: How can Technology enable the Transformation of the UK Justice Landscape?
BT examines the role of IT in the future delivery of justice.
Many within the UK justice system believe it is on the brink of some of the most fundamental changes for many decades.
Recognition of the major changes in terms of how people and society transact, interact and live, and the changes in demographics, expectations and ethnicity is leading a fundamental rethink about how justice is delivered.
The days of large-scale technology deployments, designed around forecasted demand measured in decades are disappearing. Organisations are now realigning toward a more agile delivery capability around the service “user”; be they plaintiff, defendant, victim, witness, or any one of the legal professionals and lay persons who contribute to, or interact with, the justice system.
Enabled by the £738 million investment announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 2015 Autumn Statement, work is well underway in designing and transforming the delivery of justice for the future. New forms of court procedures. New ways of interacting with stakeholders of all types. Renewed focus on efficiency and effectiveness; speeding up processes, but not at the expense of quality. And all this done in the context of significant cost constraints and increased expectations and scrutiny from the public and the media. All of whom have entirely new platforms for their critical views and opinions to be publically shared.
The highly complex “eco-system” of agencies, arms-length bodies and other interested parties that has evolved means that there are many “soft” legacy issues that require consideration in parallel to the more visible aspects of modernisation.
Duplication of manual effort is regularly cited as a key area to address for improvement. As people progress through the justice process, the same information is captured multiple times, as required by each agency or intervention, and made available for interpretation, discussion and decision. Most of this is manual and paper based, and follows a physical trail through police stations, lawyers, courts, prisons and probation services, creating costly overheads. How can the intelligent application of technology relieve the pressures created by duplication and inefficient practices, and enable individuals to add greater value to proceedings? And what learning can be appropriated from other sectors, especially Health (where the user “journey” has many similarities).
In short how can technology join up information and deliver it to the right people, in the right format at the right time - safely, securely and reliably?
A key challenge is the explosion in digital media; body-worn video, contact centre recordings, social media postings and CCTV footage are now all key elements in the majority of cases. Combine these with the increased use of virtual courts, remote video evidence, and enhanced rehabilitation programmes and it is easy to see why there is now an absolute necessity to capture, access and join up the mass of digital information. The scale of information now measured in petabytes and beyond means “Joined-Up Justice” cannot be simply an aspiration, but a reality.
So what role does IT play?
The expectations of users of IT across the private and public sector have fundamentally changed. No longer is it considered sufficient to simply deliver a service with service levels agreed at the outset. People now expect organisations to understand the customer issues in depth and provide and continually monitor the technology and customer landscape, identifying new innovations, changing practices and expectations and look at how to address these issues in the services provided.
We at BT are already working in this manner with many of our customers, stepping up to a new level of engagement and service. Proactive and targeted. Outcome based not feature driven. Aligned to strategic imperatives not tactical fixes. To bring a wider perspective and point of view to new situations and circumstances.
To succeed it is imperative that we concern ourselves with people. Whether they are citizens seeking justice or customers requiring access to information and content, we are all committed to the betterment of the UK population. BT technologies are present in virtually every home and on every street. We are a trusted brand for corporations, governments and consumers around the globe.
We believe we have, in conjunction with our 300+ technology partners, the potential to make a very significant contribution to enabling the transformation of this country’s justice system. We do not profess to know how to run a police service better, or a court more effectively, or design a prison with better rehabilitation results. But we do know how to underpin all these aspirations with the right blend of technology, know-how and often hard-won experience and align everything to delivering those business outcomes any transformation programme needs to be successful.
Justin Russell previously oversaw the MoJ's prisons, offender and youth justice policy
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