A virtual day in court: design thinking & virtual courts

Document type
Young, Jamie
Date of publication
1 December 2011
Criminal Justice Services
Social welfare
Material type

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Good design could be key to solving the problems that face public services in the 21st century, such as improving the productivity and cost-effectiveness of courtrooms while continuing to embody the values associated with the criminal justice system. Driven mainly by cost and efficiency arguments, video technology is being introduced in criminal justice systems in many countries. This allows the remote appearance of vulnerable witnesses, appearance of detainees from police stations, and evidence to be given online by police officers, expert witnesses, and translators. A variety of legal and cultural issues are raised, because of the seriousness of the issues at stake, and the engagement of such concepts as authority, trust, veracity. Perhaps due to limited consideration of these issues, there has been caution in introducing video systematically in the criminal justice process. To date there has been little systematic work to understand how video could suit the formalised court environment from a design perspective. By analysing how judges, lawyers, victims and witnesses perceive the impact of new technology, it should be possible to address these issues, while preserving the essential features of ‘the day in court’.

At a seminar organised by the RSA and Cisco Systems in 2011, practitioners, academics and designers working in the field presented their perspective on these questions, which are summarised and discussed in this report.

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