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COVID-19 and the criminal justice system

How some criminal justice systems internationally are ensuring they don’t waste a crisis.

COVID-19 has radically altered criminal justice systems across the world. It has impacted on patterns of crime, the authorities’ ability to detect certain crimes like child abuse, as well as justice system’s response to the impact of the pandemic.

Some justice system leaders have initiated major changes in policy and practice at an unprecedented pace. New working practices have been introduced, technologies leveraged to facilitate remote working and protocols adapted to prioritise high risk offences. Deloitte research found that these changes were facilitated by a more collaborative approach across agencies during the crisis.

While leaders are positive about the benefits of the changes there are also some concerns. For instance, there is a backlog in some areas like courts and probation services and the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the justice system is yet unknown.

To use the pandemic as a catalyst for system transformation, justice leaders are starting to ask three fundamental questions:

  1. How to retain the best of the COVID-19-inspired changes, whilst dealing effectively with the legacy of recent events?
  2. How to make fundamental transformations in areas where the pandemic has exposed a need?
  3. How to rapidly gather the right evidence to ensure the best possible decisions in ongoing service transformation are made?

Based on interviews with over 50 senior leaders this paper explores how COVID-19 has impacted justice systems across the world, shares examples of how leaders have responded and adapted, and discusses each of the three questions above.

This paper is part of a Future of Criminal Justice collection – explore other papers.

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