For criminal justice enforcement, a seamless and effective exchange of information between the Public Prosecution Service, the police and the court is essential. However, the independent position of these criminal justice organizations and their different, sometimes contradictory, performance objectives sometimes obstruct their alignment. Business expert Aline Seepma analysed supply chain management within Dutch criminal law. She concludes that there are still many unused opportunities to improve planning, turnaround time and capacity. Seepma will be awarded a PhD by the University of Groningen on 2 July.
Within the criminal justice supply chain, there are different areas of tension. The search for more efficiency, more speed and short turnaround times is in contrast to ensuring justice and legitimacy. While the parties in the criminal justice supply chain are forced to work together by legislation and regulations, they each have their own goals and interests. Seepma: ‘My thesis provides insight into the tensions within the criminal justice supply chains. I demonstrate that such tensions do not always need to be resolved and that the integration of information and work processes can play an important role in managing those tensions.’
Seepma investigated the interaction between the police, the Public Prosecution Service and the court. These are the main criminal justice organizations involved in the detection, investigation and jurisdiction of crimes with great impact. She concludes that these parties hardly use any relational integration mechanisms, such as establishing strategic links between organizations based on trust, commitment and a long-term vision.
The criminal justice supply chain uses less radical integration mechanisms and is, as it turns out, unexpectedly successful, says Seepma. ‘The integration of information and work processes helps to strengthen the fundamental characteristics of the legal process, although it is often thought that so-called supply chain principles are only intended to work faster and to save costs. My research shows that it is possible to successfully implement integration without compromising the goals, interests and legal independence of the parties.’
Seepma uses the collaboration within the so-called High Impact Crime domain as an example. ‘These issues are now being planned based on assumed infinite capacity, which leads to huge delays and large stacks of criminal cases that remain on the shelf. The legislator has now laid down that cases in which the suspect is incarcerated must be dealt with within a strict 90-day period. This means that other cases, for example, where the suspect is not incarcerated, will take much longer. The capacity of the parties within the supply chain is limited. Better alignment allows the supply chain as a whole to perform much better.’
Too often, criminal justice professionals take an independent standpoint, says Seepma. ‘While you could indeed separate the independence regarding the content of cases from the independence regarding the scheduling of cases, there seems to be a tentative change happening – seen, for example, in the “traffic towers” through which the Public Prosecution Service and the judiciary try to align their scheduling of criminal cases as much as possible. But there is still a lot of room for improvement in that area too. For example, for the most part, the calendars of legal professionals are not being shared and there are also opportunities to look for more alignment in the available versus necessary capacity.’
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