I was delighted to be asked to chair the 14th Annual Modernising Justice Conference, which was held yesterday in the QEII Centre in Westminster. The event brings public servants from across the justice system together with industry leaders, academics, and charities to explore the impact of, and future role of, technology in our justice system.
Often when we talk about transforming the justice system, we break it down into a series of business processes, functions, budgets. We talk about customers and end-users. And this conference began with the always useful reminder that this is about justice. There are no customers, or clients, or end users. There are victims, witnesses, defendants, dedicated public servants. A fair and accessible justice system is the bedrock of our civilization, and as we talk about how we can transform and modernize the system, it is vital that we hold this in the front of our minds.
The opening keynote speech was delivered by Jerome Glass, the Director of Strategy at the Ministry of Justice, who described the Ministry’s work on their long-term vision: Justice 2030. This strategy goes beyond the traditional scope of programmes to transform the justice system, and is looking at a wide range technological and societal developments over the coming decades, and how they might impact the way the state delivers justice.
In the years ahead there will be a profound change in the way citizens conduct their daily lives, and how they interact with the state, as technology evolves and demands changes. So it is reassuring that the MoJ is considering what these developments mean for the justice system.
Next up was Tom Read, the Chief Digital and Information Officer at the MoJ, who outlined the transformation journey the Ministry has been on over the past couple of years, and how he and his team are redesigning MoJ services for the digital age.
The following sessions covered tech transformation across the full gamut of the justice system: from digitally enabling frontline police officers, to improving efficiency and performance in the courts and Crown Prosecutions Service.
Transformation is clearly difficult, but the presentations and case studies that we heard at the event demonstrated that the potential prizes are worth the effort. And as valuable as the insights from the formal sessions were, equal value was derived from the great opportunities for networking, providing attendees a chance connect and forge useful connections.