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26th Apr 2022

Justice Committee report recommends urgent action on data collection

The House of Commons Justice Committee has today published the findings of their inquiry into court capacity.  The report cites evidence from The Legal Education Foundation’s Director of Research, Dr Natalie Byrom, and calls for urgent action to improve the data that is collected by the courts.

Responding to the report, Dr Byrom says:

The Legal Education Foundation welcomes this important report from the select committee. It rightly exposes how poor data collection from across the justice system continues to undermine the ability of the MoJ and HMCTS to predict and respond to problems relating to court capacity.

As I said in my evidence to the committee, the absence of data and robust governance for managing data has a direct cost in human terms on victims, witnesses, defendants and all those who use the court system – and weakens our ability to shape a more effective and accessible justice system for the future.

The committee reflects the findings of the Foundation’s report for HMCTS in 2019 to improve data collection and governance and I fully agree with the committee’s view that addressing this problem requires ‘a sustained focus and significant investment’. I hope that the MoJ and HMCTS will now take forward the report’s recommendation to ring-fence funding ‘to expedite work to deliver on its commitment to improve data’ and publish a detailed timetable to ‘ensure it is accountable for progress’.

No other public service would be permitted to operate with the dearth of essential data and information that exists across our courts. Addressing this is essential if we want a justice system that delivers for users and wider society alike.

The full report is available to download.