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Decision Support Within the Criminal Justice System

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The Crown Prosecution Service forms a vital component of the criminal justice system, as the chief organization prosecuting on behalf of the State and therefore the public. This paper highlights those areas where the CPS has attracted most criticism, focusing on sources of inconsistency in decision-making and management practices which may be considered inappropriate in the provision of justice. An example of how new technology could be utilized to improve the service provided by the CPS is presented. This would increase consistency of decision-making by introducing an independent assessment of the 'realistic prospect of conviction' test in the form of a decision support system. The various artificial intelligence tools available are discussed, in addition to a brief summary of why a neural network was felt to be the most suitable for the task under consideration. Preliminary results of a practical test, undertaken using archived data collected from various magistrates'courts are disseminated,together with discussion of the issues raised. Key issues concerning the philosophical and social acceptability of utilizing such a system within the Crown Prosecution Service are addressed by reference to correspondence with representatives of various organizations within the criminal justice system. This method is adopted in order to illustrate problems, both real and perceived, with the notion of utilizing technological support in what is a crucial human process.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 1998

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