I fear several hundred millions of pounds are about to be wasted by the government in an attempt to modernise the court system, which has changed very little since the 19th Century.
That is my opinion after reading a Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings, produced by The Rt Hon Sir Brian Leveson.
I have no argument the court system is in desperate need of modernisation and that Sir Brian raises some extremely good points.
However, it is laughable that in 2015 a report is pointing out how better use can be made of things like email, video conferencing and digital technology.
It’s not just the system that is out of date; it’s that influential people such as judges, barristers and other CJS professionals have been so reticent to make effective use of this ‘modern’ technology or to change outdated working practices.
The report even highlights that no work has been done to quantify how much money will be saved by the implementation of any single change or combination of changes recommended within the report. It’s simply considered that the changes are common sense and will naturally lead to improved efficiency.
That type of methodology is a recipe for disaster when you are discussing changes to an important, complicated process which involves so many organisations including the CPS, the police, the Ministry of Justice, the prison service, the court service, the judiciary, the bar, private sector firms and so on.
The whole system, from the investigation into a crime through to sending a convicted person to prison, needs reviewing by specialists experienced in implementing private sector business processes.
It is vital the practices of judges and barristers are independently scrutinised for business efficiency by people outside the legal profession, otherwise there is the risk that effective change won’t happen, as it is those with the greatest input into this review who have been the most reluctant to change in the past.
The CJS process does need an integrated and uniform IT system, and better management of the movement of prisoners, but these are just basic business processes which should be devised, implemented and run by experienced managers rather than the judiciary and the bar. The failure to independently review the Criminal Justice System from a purely business viewpoint is going to lead to time, money and effort being wasted.