Criminal Justice and Technology

Published date01 April 2024
AuthorRebecca Mitchell,Michael Stockdale
Date01 April 2024
Subject MatterEditorial
Criminal Justice and Technology
Rebecca Mitchell
Northumbria University, UK
Michael Stockdale
Northumbria University, UK
Rapidly developing technology poses numerous challenges for criminal justice systems around the world.
This special edition focuses on three specif‌ic such challenges relating to: the use of technology to protect
legal professional privilege where digital material is seized under a search warrant; the management of
risk where law and computer science intersect; and the danger of erroneous identif‌ication where
human participants in the criminal justice system are required to make identif‌ications from images.
Adopting a comparative approach and addressing a gap in the literature, in the f‌irst article Mitchell,
Stockdale and Gilligan examine ways of protecting legal professional privilege when digital material
is seized under warrant. Examining practices developed in England and Wales, New Zealand and the
United States to provide safeguards to preserve privilege, the authors consider the part played by tech-
nology to identify and protect privileged material. The article recommends best practice measures to
be included in legislation, codes of practice or guidance to ensure that legal professional privilege is
not undermined where digital material is seized under a search warrant.
In the second piece, Wilson, Bergman, Jackson and Popov explore a different approach to managing
probative risk where law and computer science intersect. It couples socio-legal research with computer
science research which had developed out of research into communications on the Dark Web. The
authors argue that, rather than viewing this risk through the lens of socio-technology, it should be
viewed as an ethical issue which arises in criminal justice systems because of epistemological differences
between lawyers and scientists exacerbated by issues of political economy and safeguard evasion. Broad
interdisciplinary collaboration is essential for insight into what is required to adapt to increasing rel iance
on artif‌icial intelligence-assisted decisions in criminal justice.
In the f‌inal article, Edmond and Wortley consider the interpretation of images in criminal proceedings.
Investigators, analysts and jurors may be involved in identifying offenders in a criminal trial using images
of suspects acquired during the course of an investigation. The f‌lawed assumption that investigators and
analysts can readily identify persons viewed in images, articulate how they were able to do so and do so
without cognitive bias from exposure to extraneous information is challenged by the authors, who explain
that the risks associated with contextual and cognitive biases in identifying individuals from images is a
threat to fairness, proof and rationality. Similar risks exist in relation to comparisons made by jurors
between images and the appearance of the defendant in court. The authors demonstrate their hypothesis
with reference to R v Yaryare [2020] EWCA Crim 1314. They propose that only witnesses with demon-
stratable expertise should be permitted to testify as to identify persons of interest in images.
Corresponding author:
Rebecca Mitchell, Northumbria School of Law, Northumbria University, UK.
The Journal of Criminal Law
2024, Vol. 88(2) 8182
© The Author(s) 2024
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00220183241247347

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