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How can justice agencies better meet citizen expectations?

Citizens support digital justice according to the 2014 global Accenture citizen survey

Overview

For any public service organization, citizen opinions matter. In particular, for justice agencies, those views are not only vital in terms of citizens’ overall cooperation with how the system works, but also act as a driver for changing practices. With the accent on swift and sure justice, the time is right to consider how a new wave of digital technologies can help influence the justice system and, ultimately, improve citizens’ experiences.

In 2014, Accenture commissioned a survey among 3,500 citizens in seven countries across the world to assess their views around the use of digital technology and its impact on their experiences with the justice system. We wanted to explore citizens’ perceptions about their current and future use of digital technologies, such as video conferencing and online portals, when dealing with justice agencies.

We found:

  • Citizens said digital can enhance their interaction with the justice system

  • A gap exists between citizens’ experiences of digital technologies and their expectations

  • Citizens see room for improvement for digital justice compared with other government interactions

The survey results offer insights into the use of digital technologies and how justice agencies might integrate digital technologies in the longer term. In the light of these findings and Accenture experience, our report illustrates three ways to develop digital justice.

Read the full survey or access the infographic to find out more.

Background

In 2014, an online quantitative poll was conducted among 3,500 respondents (global margin of error ±1.66 percentage points), across seven countries, with approximately 500 respondents each from the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Australia (margin of error ±4.38 at the country level). The survey age categories represented include 29 percent between 18 years and 34 years of age71 percent were 35 years or older. Fifty-one percent of respondents were female and 49 percent were male. The survey was conducted by marketing research company, Penn Schoen Berland.

Analysis
We found:

Citizens said digital can enhance their interactions with the justice system
The majority of citizens believe digital technologies can boost engagement with the justice system. In particular, citizens see digital tools such as video conferencing, e-mail, and online citizen service portals as a likely means for them to interact digitally with the justice system.

A gap exists between citizens’ experiences of digital technologies and their expectations
Citizens noted that their country’s justice agency could improve when it comes to speed and efficiency of the system, helpfulness of communications and resources and cost. Despite their willingness to embrace digital, the vast majority of those respondents who have interacted with the justice system to date, said they have not experienced any technological benefits.

Citizens see room for improvement for digital justice compared with other government interactions.
Nearly three in four citizens said technology has improved their interaction with at least one government agency. However, justice lags behind six other government agencies when the survey asked if technology had improved that interaction. Despite these limitations, the majority of citizens believe that digital technology can benefit the justice system in at least one area, especially speed and cost.

Recommendations

In the light of these findings and Accenture experience, we believe justice agencies need to consider the following three key takeaways:

Become swift as well as sure
Digital technologies such as video-enabled justice systems—that speed up court scheduling and management—can improve time-consuming court processes. Fast resolution of crime helps citizens gain confidence in the justice system, encouraging them to come forward as witnesses in the future.

Drive out cost
The justice system is under pressure to eliminate waste and, like the private sector, could continuously review, streamline or eliminate processes to drive down cost. By using digital technologies to deliver a fast, flexible service that enables staff to gain a broader set of skills and capabilities, crime can be fought far more dynamically and proactively to help improve the results of the agencies involved, and begin to meet—and exceed—citizens’ expectations.

Share and collaborate
Addressing justice reform is not a standalone activity as it affects a chain of departments and public service organizations. Collaboration is necessary to deliver effective public safety structures in the modern age. Without connectivity and shared data, not only is the potential for joined up justice hampered, but also the ability of agencies to predict prison accommodation requirements, or properly assess the trends that lead to a better deployment of resources, is undermined.