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How effective use of data could support a seamless customer experience across the Criminal Justice landscape

Guest blog: Emma Feggetter, Global Digital Justice Lead at Accenture as part of our #DigitalJustice2021 week.

Imagine a world where you are facing many challenges and making poor choices. One of them leads to you entering the Criminal Justice system. It’s your first time. You’re angry and afraid. The Officers arresting you are professional and firm as they take you into custody. You are at the start of the process and you have very little control of it as a defendant. Your life is in the hands of strangers and the first decision maker is the custody officer who treats you with kindness and respect but does not know you. You are asked about yourself, your circumstances, and you realise that they actually do know things about you and tailor their interactions and questions accordingly. This gives you confidence, so you share more with them, and as a result you undergo an assessment for your mental health and other health challenges. This is the first time anyone has ever asked you about your health and wellbeing and additionally supports you in getting the help you need – you feel cared for, and more willing to cooperate. It’s tough to share such personal information with strangers and you’re relieved that you only need to share it once and every other part of the system whether supportive or judging has this relevant information to be fair and caring. Your court case is swift and smooth, you feel well informed and treated with respect throughout. You made bad choices and receive a short prison sentence, despite your mitigation, but you understand why and due to the transparency of the process feel this is fair. By the time you arrive at the prison, you are met by Officers who already know a lot about you such that a scary moment becomes less so, you are not made to repeat information as they understand your needs and how to support you effectively. You’re automatically enrolled in health and education programmes based on your personal needs. When you leave prison, you’re supported in restarting your life equipped with skills and access to support to integrate back into society, utilising user friendly technology to remind you of check ins which can be done remotely, or connectivity to agencies, people, groups to help you make better choices at times of risk.  

This may feel far from reality for you as the reader, but this is the experience I would want for anyone that I knew facing this situation. The golden thread through this is ‘Connected Justice’ and surely this must be the ambition of any Justice system. A system which is enabled by technology where the participants and their needs are at the centre of a transparent process. A seamless user experience from start to finish and beyond. It is achievable. 

What do we need to do to make this a reality? There are two critical elements – culture, and data sharing.  

There needs to be a culture of confidence and trust between agencies that supports transparent data sharing without concern of the consequences. A culture which is supportive and focused on fairness, integrity, and care, where the individual is at the heart of the process. Where staff from end to end across the agencies have the tools and time, to provide a service to each individual and Justice as a whole. Any additional staffing costs should be offset by using technology to increase efficiency and remove duplication. 

The vision, at a minimum, must be to develop a connected data sharing service across all agencies who have a role in Criminal Justice, but then widened to include Health, Education, local authorities, and Charities such that tackling recidivism and reducing crime rates are realised. 

The agencies are, I believe, ready to make that a reality and we, as technology providers, have the tools, technologies and ambition ready to support them.


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