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back to article We'll punish crims faster... with lots of shiny new tech - minister

Effective use of technology will be at the heart of the criminal justice system, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has promised. In a white paper, Swift and Sure Justice: the Government's plans for reform of the Criminal Justice System, the government says exploiting its investments in technology will help improve service delivery, …

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Silver badge
FAIL

Swift justice, sure Justice

Pick any one.

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So in short...

Government IT: this time it'll be different (just like we said last time)

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Trollface

Days long gone

When you were collarred by the long arm of the law at midnight, got a night in the cells and then appeared before the bench in the morning. No chance to vanish into the night, or give your name as Michael Mouse from Florida (who's incidentally wanted on 5 counts of murder, and you'd be out of the country smartish perhaps).

Alas I don't think the Ministry of Justice cuts the mustard, possibly too similar to the Orwellian "Ministry of Truth". Maybe they ought to use the "Ministry of Sound", a night of incessant house music would drive them mad enough to not want to repeat the experience.

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Anonymous Coward

promises, promises

every now and then, someplace, some folks from this or that gov department come up with this vision of a brave new world, be it a 300 mph bullet train from London to Manchester, or a breakthrough in how we use IT for policing crime. Or how they will handle benefits system. Or NHS. They sprinkle this vision, disappear, 10 years later another bod comes up, says more or less the same thing, and disappears again, and in the meantime, the world moves at its own pace, thanks God.

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xyz
Bronze badge
Unhappy

Much as like the idea.....

... efficient justice should never be measured by "churn" speed. The most efficient justice system is based on accuracy of verdict. I wish those in power would remember that.

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MGJ

Re: Much as like the idea.....

For every case that churns, there is less chance that those witnesses will turn up next time. The defence system is based on this; never plead until the last minute and only if you've checked the witnesses are there. There is astonishing waste in the justice system

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Bronze badge

Re: Much as like the idea.....

In the criminal justice system there is always a trade-off between speed and fairness. We can't ignore it. When you drive your car, there's a tradeoff between getting somewhere quickly, and getting there safely (alive).

In fact we already accept some trade-offs in efficiency versus justice. Ordinary individuals can detain others for up to 30 minutes (a Citizens' Arrest). Police officers can arrest and detain you without charge for up to 24 hours. A judge can extend that detention for up to 14 days without charge. It would be much fairer, but ridiculously expensive, to insist that every arresting officer is accompanied by a judge at all times.

For common offences, the system is already streamlined. When you receive a speeding ticket you can plead guilty and pay the fine by post or online, without ever having to see the inside of a courtroom. TV licence and council tax missed payments are also dealt with swiftly.

Nobody wants an unjust outcome from a rushed trial, but if there are productivity benefits available from better processes and better use of IT, we shouldn't ignore them. The loudest voices in favour of "prudent" justice (i.e. time-consuming and expensive) are the lawyers and judges whose pockets benefit directly from drawn-out cases.

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Silver badge
Headmaster

Another Polititian who lives in a little pink bubble and has no idea to the reality of the real world.

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it continues

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Joke

I guess they are looking for future scapegoats when the justice system collapses under it's own bullshit .

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Anonymous Coward

Lets have street judges...

Street Judges could act as police, judge, jury and, if necessary, on-the-spot executioner.

Dreddful.

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Holmes

"That has to be in the best interests of victims, prosecution and defence witnesses and all parties within the wider criminal justice system."

And how about the best interests of the accused? Do they still get time to find out what the prosecution case is, dig out the bits that the prosecution "forgot" to tell them about, and prepare the defence case?

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WTF?

What these tech clowns seem to over look is ...

the reason an in-custody alleged offender is entitled to come before a magistrate is to allow such people the opportunity to bring to the courts attention any matter that be alleged offender might have from health matters, food and legal affairs / representation.

Furthermore, an accused is entitled to face anyone giving evidence, in person, and to challenge 'evidence'. How many cases have turned on the cut and thrust of cross examination?

How can anyone be sure a tele-witness is not being coached by someone off-screen? Personal interaction between a barrister/lawyer and a witness is critical; Body language can not be clearly seen on TV screens.

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Anonymous Coward

"the Association of Chief Police Officer's lead"

I don't think that one officer can constitute an association, but if they could the appointment of a lead would be therefore unnecessary.

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Anonymous Coward

Quick or just?

It's always been easy enough to jail people quickly; most of this country's history attests to that. It's jailing the right ones that has always been the problem, and cutting corners to score what amount to political points will only cost down the road when a raft of unsafe convictions come up for appeal under a less stats obsessed regime.

The botched justice of some prominent 1970s cases destroyed lives and cost a fortune in compensation, lets hope this doesn't have the same effect.

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Silver badge

Punish crims with IT projects

For minor crimes you would just get a couple of weeks installing exchange server, for hardened bad guys it would be setting up Oracle or BES and the really nasty ones would be forced to implement government IT projects

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Bronze badge

punish crims faster... with lots of shiny new tech

Reading this I was expecting them to announce a Judge Dredd style "Time Stretcher".

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Gold badge

The norm, not the exception

"During last year's riots, we saw cases that normally take weeks and months being dealt with in just hours and days. We want this to become the norm, not the exception."

I was under the impression that last year's performance was driven by courts sitting 24/7 and everyone putting in masses of overtime. I imagine that quite a few people might have an objection to that becoming "normal".

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Technology Eh?

I believe I see this ending badly, with the plod too busy raiding Dragon Soul on their shiny new desktops to do 'crime' or with magistrates deciding watching Netflix on their tablets would be a better use of time than listening to the boring people during court.

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Boffin

How about...

... instead of splurging a boat-load of tax-payers' money on something which is liable to turn into another IT vanity project catastrophe, we deal with those who have committed actual crimes faster by stopping creating new laws and wasting time and money on prosecuting people for trivial "offences"?

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Facepalm

Kangaroo Courts?

I can't of think anything worse for judicial reform than to make riot style fast-tracking the "norm".

You just have to look at the Fortnum and Mason trials.. Too many people for one trial, so they split them up.

Group A were who the CPS decided were "organisers", group B was apparently anyone holding more than 20 leaflets, and the CPS won't say what the charging criteria was for group C.

Group A had a reasonable judge and were all let off after the main witness retracted her statement that the group intimidated staff, after CCTV showed that what she said had happened, infact didn't.

The Group B trial was later, and they were convicted on the same statement that had already been retracted in the group A trial, although one got off because she was later found to have only been carrying 16 leaflets instead of the required 20!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/mar/13/uk-uncut-activist-case-dropped

http://brightgreenscotland.org/index.php/2012/03/fortnum-and-mason-trial-b-the-farce-rolls-on/

If justice is blind, she should stick to walking pace I think.

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Efficiency

In terms of shuffling the paperwork, this sounds like a big improvement (and this is only partly influenced by having spent a few days earlier this year preparing c 10,000 pages of evidence - for a case which was ultimately settled anyway, but because of the time involved, all the paper evidence had to be prepared before that happened). The time and money involved in all the photocopying, filing and transportation is staggering - and completely pointless, when it would have been *better* exchanged electronically in the first place! (No search facility on a massive paper dump, for one thing.)

I do understand concerns about swifter justice risking a loss of accuracy: in some parts of the process that's certainly the case, but simply exchanging documents electronically rather than on dead tree, by email rather than LP or DX? Where's the harm in that? Not to mention access; easy for a lawyer to turn up without some document, a secure comms link would let them retrieve the document in seconds instead of having to delay the court while it's physically retrieved from another building.

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