I am delighted to be back here in Belfast and I am grateful for your invitation to speak at the Transforming Justice Conference. Given the overarching themes of this conference are reducing crime, reducing re-offending and increasing effectiveness, I would like to offer my thoughts on increasing efficiency in a digital age.
- Let me start by repeating a mantra that has been central to my approach for many years. There is no criminal justice system but a series of criminal justice systems – the police, the prosecutors, the defence community and its funders the Legal Aid Agency, the courts including transport services for prisoners, the prisons and probation services all have their own problems, mainly financial, and thus their own agendas. Overarching those involved in criminal litigation is the judiciary, seeking to hold the balance between state and citizen. On top is the executive, designing and implementing its own policy changes. Delivering efficiency in these criminal justice systems requires a consideration of the problems of each one and a detailed consideration of the way in which they interact. In 2015, following a request from the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice, I published a review into the efficiency of criminal proceedings and made recommendations that could be implemented by procedural improvement and greater efficiency without the need for legislation. Each of those with an interest in criminal justice participated and it was critical that each contributed to the overall result.