Information Technologies in Law Enforcement

Autore:Giovanni Degli Antoni/Antonio Di Pietro

1. Introduction and Aims. 2. Law-enforcement Procedures. Information and Technologies. 3. Procedures and Knowledge. 4. Documentation. 5. Interactivity. 6. Research on Technologies Employed in the Law. Acknowledgments.


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@1. Introduction and Aims

The purpose of this paper is to present a brief expose on the relevance of Information technology to certain aspects and procedures in the administration of justice. The elements on which the report is based are numerous: their Integration in a concise global view is forced by multifarious factors.

  1. Information technologies are nowadays pervading everywhere, almost as is the term ´informationª itself.

  2. The human systems with which law-enforcers are concerned are Increasingly complex, among other things because the laws themselves continue to grow in volume. Without support from information technology, the law would be hard put to interpret its role in accordance with changing situations in society at large, where Information technologies are widely used, sometimes to circumvent the laws and their enforcement and sometimes even to commit deliberate violations.

  3. In recent years, moreover, justice has widened Its scope in response to rapid and unceasing socio-economic development leading to innovations in organization and production and a degree of competitiveness that scarcely leaves pause for breath, all of which breeds conditions in which breaches of civil and legal ordinances are more the rale than the exception.

  4. The overall presence of information technologies is rapidly - or slowly, depending on one's point of view - leading to a change in die meaning of the word communication that cannot be ignored by anyone be he a judge, a doctor, a government official, or a scientist - whose day-to-day work depends on Information and its implications.

  5. The complexity of the investigations conducted by the so-called ´Clean Handsª Pool, which transpired clearly from the Cusani trial, has served to emphasize the importance of integrated Information technologies in the administration of justice.

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  6. Apart from the fundamental aspects listed under a, b, c, d, and e above, it has to be borne in mind that the law needs information technologies to keep the productivity of its procedures and structures up to a level compatible with public spending. The absence of satisfactory productivity inevitably causes a sense of frustration in striving to meet the demand for justice and coping with the spread of lawlessness, which is bound to lead to insistence that the law find new ways and means. Such means are, however, unlikely to be provided to an adequate degree, with the result that lawlessness will spread still further.

    This paper is substantially motivated by the needs of productivity, its object - or hope - being to show how technology may be planned in the interests of justice in such a way that, albeit gradually, future changes will blend with the present culture, whose roots are in a past that, however vividly present in people's minds, has largely exhausted its role. The cost of technologies will to a great extent depend on how they are developed. The cost may be one, ten, a hundred, or more, according to the aims the planners set themselves. Those who aim only to embark on an uncritical increase in public spending, as has often happened in the past, will create high costs, inefficiency, and frustration, as more than a few examples from recent history have shown. It should be, for example, the evaluation of the effectiveness of the proposals to drive the investments towards certain suppliers and the planning activity towards certain decision makers, rather than absurd calls for tenders resulting in competitive bids that have nothing whatever to do with the public interest public spending, or the administration of justice.

    @2. Law-enforcement Procedures. Information and Technologies

    Justice has recourse ro many procedures. All these procedures may be described in the abstract from the point of view of information. The training of personnel calls for the transmission of information. The buildup of competence requires that information be accumulated in concise and organized form. Penal or civil proceedings are information procedures that call for the collection of data, knowledge, and decisions. The latter, too, may well be seen in the light of data, processing. We could easily continue with the list, but there would be little point in doing so, though it is important co recognize the existence of this situation. One of the first results of such recognition, is the possibility of employing information technologies in all law-enforcement activities. The issue of laws, the distribution of legalPage 129 knowledge, the collection and the evaluation of law-breaking, the visualization of the legal behaviour in the country available for government authorities and individual citizens themselves, the recording and integration of information relating to proceedings (civil, penal, etc.), presumed breaches of the law, the imposition of penalties, the implementation of procedures, and much else besides, can become more productive and be supported by information technologies for purposes of productivity, quality, assessment, forecasting, management, control, or anything else.

    As is well known, in the procedures managed by the Pool Mani Pulite, more than a few technologies were integrated in order to enhance productivity, including technologies to improve the transparency of acts and behaviour, the presence and meaning of which could be evaluated also by citizens.

    From the methodological point of view, the procedures employed by the law may be analyzed in different ways. A very productive approach to make analysis easier and to make it possible to manage the complex structures associated with the administration of justice, is to consider the aspects of justice as separate entities subject to their own life-cycle. The description, at various levels of abstraction (detail), of the life-cycle of the separate entities, followed by establishment of the degree to which they are interrelated, is likely to lead the analyst to adopt suitable processes of synthesis that can be transformed into complex software procedures for the management of the entities in their interrelationship with others.

    This procedure forms the conceptual basis of so-called ´object-oriented technologiesª. The justice entities - all of them - are objects that can in part be classified and of which we can provide instances. Thus, anybody analyzing laws (objects) within the framework of an organization (say a company, or a ministry), would have to describe their life-cycles at various levels or abstraction. These are very numerous indeed, and it is very probable that any organization will be forced to draw on its own experience and knowledge to render the analysis feasible. According to the nomenclature of object-oriented technology, the life-cycle is nothing more than the ensemble of ´methodsª characterizing the object in question. For example, an application of a law in an organization may lead to the mechanized performance oi an administrative procedure (as in a bank), or of a common, sealed cash-register (as in a shop).

    In the light of the foregoing, law...

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