Revolutionising Justice: How Technology Modernises Criminal Justice

Nick Goodwin, CEO HMCTS
May 22, 2024

Ahead of this year's justice conference, we spoke with Nick Goodwin, CEO of HM Courts and Tribunal Service. We asked, "How do you envision technology playing a pivotal role in transforming and modernising criminal justice processes, and what specific advancements do you believe are most crucial for the sector's improvement?" 

When we began our ambitious Reform Programme in 2016, we committed to bringing in new processes, technology and ways of working, focusing on court users’ and our partners’ needs and expectations. The programme centred on our core principles: to be just, proportionate and accessible. We’re now coming to the end of one of the most far-reaching modernisation programmes in criminal justice history.  

We’ve successfully introduced Common Platform to all criminal courts in England and Wales, improving data sharing and accuracy between criminal justice partners. This case management system automatically sends documents to the Crown Prosecution Service, interfaces with police systems and shares information with the Legal Aid Agency, ensuring all parties have the most recent information. To date, the system has managed over 1.3 million cases.  We’ve also digitised essential forms used in magistrates’ courts, like the Preparation for Effective Trial (PET) and Better Case Management (BCM) files, streamlining processes further. 

Technology has also significantly improved access to justice as well as the quality of justice. The special measure which allows vulnerable witnesses to pre-record their cross-examination, ensures they can give their best evidence without enduring the stress of a live courtroom setting. The introduction of remote hearings allows for greater flexibility, subject to judicial approval, making the court process more accessible to all involved. 

We’ll continue to leverage technology to enhance our services and unlock capacity within the system as we conclude, and transition out of, our Reform Programme. The drive to improve will not end there. The rich data now available about cases, hearings, and trials, helps us understand our service users better and continuously improve our offerings. 

We’ve laid a strong foundation and must maintain momentum to keep improving. Our journey of modernisation is ongoing. I’m confident that by working together with our partners across the criminal justice system, we can be proud of a more accessible, efficient, and just system for all.