The Transformative Power of Data in the Justice System: Efficiency, Collaboration, and Saving Lives

Alex Zlatinova
June 19, 2023

Data has become one of the major driving forces of global economies, fueling progress and innovation across businesses of all sizes, industries and government organisations.

Many global government organizations have recognized the role that data can play in making them more agile and giving them the tools to adjust services as required. This has become even more prominent during the pandemic that has accelerated the UK Government’s existing approach to data innovation. This has likely helped inform its new National Data Strategy, which intends to remove barriers and improve collaboration across the public sector.

Data plays a crucial role particularly in the justice system. The collection, analysis and sharing of data enables the justice system to better understand patterns of crime, improve operational efficiency and make more informed decisions.

The use of data can help to improve the efficiency of the justice system. For example, digital case management systems can streamline processes and reduce administrative burden. Additionally, data analytics tools can be used to identify areas of inefficiency and potential cost savings.

The sharing of data between different agencies within the justice system is also crucial for effective decision-making. For example, sharing information between the police, prison and probation services can help to ensure that offenders receive appropriate supervision and support after they are released from prison.

Unilink’s U-Case Offender Management System aims to bring together prison and probation management, facilitating the transition between these two environments.

It is challenging to bring together those two culturally distinct areas through a piece of software, because the prison environment is custodial and the probation environment focuses on court orders and helping get people back into society.

Another exciting example of using data and innovation to improve efficiency is MyProbation - a mobile app Unilink is developing for probation users that will help people with their reporting, and link it directly into the agency’s central systems. This is an exciting trial that we are currently running in the UK. It makes staying in touch with the Probation Officer easy, empowers the user and improves the communication with the practitioner.

Another important development Unilink are seeing throughout multiple countries is the move to cloud-based systems. Currently, too much data is held on too many disparate systems. But once we put this data in the cloud, the opportunities to interweave these systems will be much greater.

This is important because it enables us to cross examine data from different systems and provide Justice ministries with valuable insights allowing them to take a leap forward in their use of data to help people.

The powerful role of data has also been used in the development of Unilink’s AIM (Alert. Intervene. Monitor) tool which has been developed to potentially help reduce suicide and self-harm in prison. We use data, collected vie Unilink’s self-service prisoner software to inform prison officers and governors of patterns and assist them in identifying people at risk.

However, there are also potential risks associated with the use of data in the justice system. For example, there is a risk that data could be used to perpetuate bias or discrimination. It is therefore important that data is collected and used in a responsible and ethical manner, with appropriate safeguards in place to protect individuals' privacy and rights.

Overall, the use of data has the potential to bring significant benefits to the justice system in the UK, improving efficiency, effectiveness and decision-making. However, it is important that data is used responsibly and ethically, with appropriate safeguards in place to protect individuals' rights and privacy.