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Guest blog: Transforming Criminal Justice

Posted: Friday 3rd May 2019
Blog: May

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Michael Flay, Senior Responsible Officer for the Criminal Justice Transformation Programme, tells us more about how he hopes to make a difference…

Improving the experience of victims and streamlining their journey through the criminal justice service (CJS) in Avon and Somerset is the motivation behind this programme. The Avon and Somerset Criminal Justice Board recognised that partners needed to work more closely together, exploit technological advancements and maximise efficiencies through a truly joined-up service that has victims at the heart of its collective conscience.

As the Senior Responsible Officer, I am accountable for leading and delivering the programme. I work with senior officers across the local CJS to apply learning from behavioural science into practical solutions aimed at improving the local CJS effectiveness.

As part of the programme, four areas of work in the local CJS will be improved: custody and decision-making, police file quality, court listings and hearings, and victims and witness support. I spend my working week based at various locations across the partner agencies, working with colleagues from all the agencies to progress these four areas of work. Each quarter, the progress of the programme is reported to the Local Criminal Justice Board, made up of senior stakeholders from local criminal justice agencies.

Within our four work streams, a number of pilot activities and new approaches have been or are being tested to baseline if they deliver the expected benefits. One activity that will shortly conclude is a pilot that uses behavioural science interventions with the ambition of reducing the number of failure to attend court cases where defendants have been notified by post.

Another strand of work underway is aiming to improve decision-making in police custody, which is the starting point of a case before it progresses through the CJS. We will focus on critical decisions – appropriate charging, court allocation and plea anticipation – that agencies need to get right first time in order to improve effectiveness of case progression through the system.

We are also exploring an innovative approach in the use of multi-agency data sharing that will allow partners to automate some processes that will support decision-making in the preparation of cases for trial. The establishment of a data sharing agreement will also provide new opportunities to realise the benefits that technology can provide including managing demand in the system, effectively managing cases preparation and inter-agency processes in a more expeditious way which ultimately helps deliver more timely outcomes for victims.

I work closely with a fantastic group of stakeholders in statutory and voluntary agencies across the local CJS. I’m always keen to hear from anyone with constructive ideas that can help with the challenge of this programme.

We need to work together to deliver a more victim-focused experience across the CJS. Ensuring decision-making and sharing of information between agencies is geared towards supporting victims and witnesses, and in doing so in the most effective and prompt manner. With the PCC championing this programme and all of us working together, I am encouraged we can make a real difference.

For more information, visit: https://www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk/Partnerships/Criminal-Justice-Transformation.aspx

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