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Digital transformation central to MoJ’s Vision

In its first Single Departmental Plan the MoJ reaffirms it aims to move towards digital courtrooms, common standards, improved use of data, and better engagement with…

Last week, in conjunction with all other central Government Departments, the Ministry of Justice released its first Single Departmental Plan. Single departmental plans are documents designed to provide a “single, clear roadmap” for departments, outlining their aims for the duration of this parliament and helping to ensure that resource allocation is closely aligned with priorities.

In their SDP, the Ministry of Justice reaffirmed its commitment to improving its use of technology. The opening line of the department’s ‘Vision’ commits them to “reviewing how we provide our services online, seeking wherever possible to meet the common standards set by the Government Digital Service.” They also pledge to use cross-government platforms wherever possible.

Other technological commitments include working with mobile network operators to develop new technological solutions to block mobile phone signals in prisons and improving the department’s data, analysis and research capability, in order to give “officials and frontline staff access to evidence about what works, helping to deliver the best outcomes for citizens”. This includes the creation of a new Data, Evidence and Science Advisory Board, which will be chaired by Sir Michael Barber, Pearson’s Chief Education Adviser. As a step towards improving the MoJ’s use of data, they have announced their first ever ‘hackathon’, on data science, in order to “kickstart creative thinking around the use of data in the justice system”.

A key tenet of the Plan is using technology to leverage improvements in the speed and efficiency of the criminal justice system. Within the justice system, the longer that a case goes on for the more likely it is to collapse. Echoing comments from techUK’s panel on Transforming Justice via Digital Working, this plan commits the MoJ to reduce both the average time taken to deal with cases and costly administrative processes in the criminal and civil jurisdictions, as well as tribunals, ensuring that processes are simplified, more work is done online, and the use of paper is significantly reduced.

We will implement the criminal justice reform proposals of Sir Brian Leveson. We will strip out unnecessary stages in the journey to trial, providing judges with the tools to manage cases effectively and accelerate them through the system, use email and other technologies to replace time-consuming face-to-face conferences and hearings and explore how more cases might be dealt with by magistrates.

The document also reaffirms the MoJ’s intention to work with the Crown Commercial Service in improving procurement: securing better deals on goods and services and helping fulfil the government’s commitment that a third of spending will go to SMEs by 2020.

techUK looks forward to working with the Ministry of Justice over the coming year as they implement their vision, moving towards digital courtrooms, common standards, improved use of data, and better engagement with SMEs.


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