Justice In the Digital Age

By Jacqueline de Rojas, President of techUK and the chair of the Digital Leaders board. Jacqueline is also Chair of the British Legal Technology Awards as well as a panel member of the DELTAS Initiative.

Too often when we talk about transforming the justice system, we break it down into a series of business processes, functions, and budgets. But when we think about the people involved, there is so much more at stake than metrics and budgets.

For me, this is about justice: Within the justice system there are no customers, or clients, or end users. There are victims, witnesses, defendants, and legal professionals. Simply put, justice delayed is justice denied. Yet too many are denied justice through unnecessary delays, errors, and inefficiencies in the system.

I believe a truly world class justice system isn’t about the management of crime, punishment, and rehabilitation. It’s about delivering more accountability, engagement, and public trust. These fundamentals must shape the way we move forward and build a justice system that’s fit for the digital era. The way the state conducts its business, and the way in which we as citizens interact with the state, will fundamentally change over the coming decades. Technology presents an immense opportunity. We can let our imaginations run wild and break down barriers to success.

Last year, the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee published a report on Efficiency in the criminal justice system.” The report found that “the criminal justice system is close to breaking point.” The criminal justice landscape is fragmented. It is a myriad of diverse organizations and agencies, all of which hold a stake. All of whom need to cooperate and share information in order for the system to function.

Poor coordination and data sharing between these various organizations cause delays and inefficiencies. Most legal professionals will be familiar with the issues the report highlights: significant delays; victims sent conflicting information; and perhaps the most remarkable statistic, almost half of all witnesses would NOT be prepared to do it again. Think about what that means for justice…

There are many different reasons for the problems highlighted in this report, which can’t be addressed by digital transformation alone. But many problems can be, and the potential for digital technology to address them is enormous. But if we want to truly harness tech to address these problems, we need digital ambition. The coming decades will be challenging times for Government as it strives to deliver more value for money while meeting the needs of a more demanding population… READ FULL ARTICLE