Data governance and connectivity can improve justice system: TechUK

TechUK has identified data governance and connectivity as key priorities for digital transformation of the UK’s justice system.

In a new report the technology trade association assesses the impact of COVID-19 on the criminal justice system and looks at next steps for digitising courts, prisons and probation services as lockdown restrictions are lifted.

While digital adoption across the criminal justice system accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report finds that long-term change is needed to enhance the system for all its users, with data sitting at the core of this change.

Investment and adoption of new technologies will improve efficiencies and will result in better joined up services across the criminal justice system, according to TechUK.

In order to achieve this, the trade body set out the following objectives.

Provide access to the right data at the right time to make informed decisions and improve efficiencies.

Support better sharing of data throughout the user journey through the justice system
Improve data quality and data standards as a foundation to deliver justice more efficiently.

The paper also touches on existing challenges to overcome such as connectivity issues in prison estates and interoperability, as well as looking ahead at the opportunities for digital adoption to improve efficiencies and better support staff and those moving through the criminal justice system.

The paper also introduces the work of techUK’s ‘Digital Justice’ working group, which was launched in January 2021. The working group is a platform to encourage collaboration between the tech industry and stakeholders across the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals (HMCTS), Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Services (HMPPS) and academia.

The working group explores the importance of driving digital transformation across the criminal justice system in areas such as:

-Digital prisons, health and security
-Education, skills, prevention and rehabilitation
-Digital courts, common platform and forensics

Georgie Henley, programme manager, justice and emergency Services, techUK said:
"It has been a difficult year for our criminal justice system, but with these challenges have come opportunities to learn, adapt and change. This paper highlights the vital role technology plays in modernising our criminal justice system, helping to build back better, and also how important it is for stakeholders to engage with the tech industry."

Following this paper, techUK’s Digital Justice Working Group will be publishing a report in November 2021.

Natalie Farr, public safety manager, UK public sector, Google Cloud said: "The Justice sector is facing unprecedented challenges, which have only been accelerated as a result of COVID-19. The impact has been felt throughout the entire criminal justice system. The journey through the system for the accused, for the victims, witnesses and solicitors alike is ever more challenging.

"techUK’s Digital Justice working group aims to provide the wider industry with expert advice on the role that technology plays in our justice system of tomorrow, giving guidance on how to address current challenges and build agile platforms of the future."

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