Call for Evidence
Call for evidence
The Justice and Home Affairs Committee was appointed by the House of Lords on 14 April 2021. Its role is “to consider justice and home affairs, including the domestic criminal justice system, and international cooperation in respect of criminal justice, civil justice, migration, and asylum.”
House of Lords Committees launch inquiries into topics of public importance. They work by consensus, which means that Members from across the political spectrum agree on a single report for their inquiry, containing a set of conclusions and recommendations. The Government must consider reports by House of Lords Committees and must publish a reply, which is then debated in the Chamber.
Committees invite written and oral evidence from across society to shape their inquiries and form conclusions and recommendations. With the present call, the public is invited to submit written contributions as part of the Justice and Home Affairs Committee’s first inquiry: “new technologies and the application of the law”.
Scope of the inquiry
The Committee seeks to explore the use of new technologies in the application of the law and the experience of people currently or previously engaged with them.
New technologies include but are not limited to: machine-learning approaches; advanced algorithmic tools; artificial intelligence; and semi-autonomous or autonomous devices or systems. Application of the law includes activities to enforce, discover, deter, rehabilitate, or punish people who breach the law in a variety of contexts, as well as the prediction and prevention of future breaches.
Over the course of its inquiry, the Committee will notably discuss the existing legal and governance framework around the development and use of these new technologies, ethical issues raised by their use in the application of the law, as well as the lived experiences of end-users and citizens interacting with them. While the geographical scope of the inquiry is necessarily limited to England and Wales, the Committee also welcomes contributions related to the use of new technologies in the application of the law in devolved jurisdictions and overseas.
The Committee would like to hear from individuals and organisations with an interest, experience, or expertise in the use of new technologies in the application of the law. This is an open call for evidence and the Committee is also keen to hear from members of the public. Please bring it to the attention of anyone you know who might be interested.
Respondents are welcome to answer any or all of the questions set out below. Respondents are equally welcome to flag the importance of other issues related to the inquiry that are not covered in the questions below but which they think the Committee should consider in its work. The Committee is looking for pragmatic approaches to the issues presented by new technologies in the application of the law, so please provide practical examples where possible.
1. Do you know of technologies being used in the application of the law? Where? By whom? For what purpose?
2. What should new technologies used for the application of the law aim to achieve? In what instances is it acceptable for them to be used? Do these technologies work for their intended purposes, and are these purposes sufficiently understood?
3. Do new technologies used in the application of the law produce reliable outputs, and consistently so? How far do those who interact with these technologies (such as police officers, members of the judiciary, lawyers, and members of the public) understand how they work and how they should be used?
4. How do technologies impact upon the rule of law and trust in the rule of law and its application? Your answer could refer, for example, to issues of equality. How could any negative impacts be mitigated?
5. With regards to the use of these technologies, what costs could arise? Do the benefits outweigh these costs? Are safeguards needed to ensure that technologies cannot be used to serve purposes incompatible with a democratic society?
6. What mechanisms should be introduced to monitor the deployment of new technologies? How can their performance be evaluated prior to deployment and while in use? Who should be accountable for the use of new technologies, and what accountability arrangements should be in place? What governance and oversight mechanisms should be in place?
7. How far does the existing legal framework around new technologies used in the application of the law support their ethical and effective use, now and in the future? What (if any) new legislation is required? How appropriate are current legal frameworks?
8. How can transparency be ensured when it comes to the use of these technologies, including regarding how they are purchased, how their results are interpreted, and in what ways they are used?
9. Are there relevant examples of good practices and lessons learnt from other fields or jurisdictions which should be considered?
10. This Committee aims to establish some guiding principles for the use of technologies in the application of the law. What principles would you recommend?
How to submit evidence
Who can submit evidence?
This is a public call for evidence. Everyone is welcome to submit evidence. Please bring it to the attention of other groups and individuals who may have an interest in the Committee’s inquiry.
Diversity comes in many forms and hearing a range of different perspectives means that committees are better informed and can more effectively scrutinise public policy and legislation. Committees can undertake their role most effectively when they hear from a wide range of individuals, sectors or groups in society affected by a particular policy or piece of legislation. We encourage anyone with experience or expertise of an issue under investigation by a select committee to share their views with the committee, with the full knowledge that their views have value and are welcome.
How can evidence be submitted?
Written evidence should be submitted online using the submission form. If you do not have access to a computer, you may submit a paper copy to:
Clerk to the Justice and Home Affairs Committee
Committee Office, House of Lords,
London SW1A 0PW
The deadline to submit written evidence is 5 September.
What should submissions contain?
Concise submissions are preferred and responses must not be any longer than six sides of A4. Long submissions should include a summary. Paragraphs should be numbered. Submissions should be dated, with a note of the author’s name, and of whether the author is acting on an individual or corporate basis. All submissions made through the online submission form will be acknowledged automatically by email.
You should be careful not to comment on individual cases currently before a court of law or matters in respect of which court proceedings are imminent. If you anticipate such issues arising, you should discuss with the Clerk of the Committee how this might affect your submission.
What happens to the written evidence once submitted?
Personal contact details supplied to the Committee will be removed from submissions before publication but will be retained by the Committee staff for specific purposes relating to the Committee’s work, such as seeking additional information.
Submissions become the property of the Committee which will decide whether to accept them as evidence. Evidence may be published by the Committee at any stage. It will normally appear on the Committee’s website and will be deposited in the Parliamentary Archives. Once you have received acknowledgement that your submission has been accepted as evidence, you may publicise or publish it yourself, but in doing so you must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee. If you publish your evidence separately, you should be aware that you will be legally responsible for its content.
In certain circumstances, the Committee may be prepared to accept submissions but not to publish them, in whole or in part. If you would like to submit evidence on this basis you should first discuss this with the Clerk to the Committee.
Certain individuals and organisations may be invited to appear in person before the Committee to give oral evidence. Oral evidence is usually given in public and broadcast online. Persons invited to give oral evidence will be notified separately of the procedure to be followed and the topics likely to be discussed.
To find out more about how to submit written evidence and how the Committee will use your submission, please consult our list of How to guides. More specifically, you may want to consult our Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Lords, which notably includes a privacy notice. You can also follow the progress of our inquiry on our website or by following us on Twitter (@LordsJHACom).
Substantive communications to the Committee about the inquiry should be addressed through the Clerk, whether or not they are intended to constitute formal evidence to the Committee. You can contact the Clerk at HLJusticeHomeAffairs@parliament.uk or on 020 7219 6099.
This call for written evidence has now closed.Go back to New technologies and the application of the law Inquiry