Criminal Justice

Client: Ministry of Justice, the Netherlands

Authors/Consultants: Rouwette EAJA, Vennis JAM, Van Hooff P, Jongebreur W

In 2003, Significant consulting and the Methodology group of Radboud University Nijmegen started a modeling project for the Ministry of Justice in the Netherlands. The aim of the project was is to gain insight into the combined effects of three developments: an increase in the case load, investments in different phases of criminal justice administration and contextual developments such as increased complexity of cases. A group of representatives from the police force, public prosecution, courts and sentence execution, probation services, WODC (Scientific Research and Documentation Center) and different departments of the Ministry of Justice participated in constructing the model from January to August 2004. The project was named Simulatiemodel Strafrechtsketen (simulation model criminal justice chain) or SMS. The final model shows the case and person flow in the Dutch criminal justice system over a period of 14 years on a monthly basis. It contains hundreds of equations and 41 views in Vensim.

In addition to answering the original questions, the model was also used to gain insight into the effects of a proposed law. Under the new law, the public prosecution will settle a proportion of cases which are now the responsibility of courts. Several members of the original modeling team participated in an update of the SMS model which was finalized in March 2006. The modeling effort pointed to larger than expected case loads at several points in criminal justice administration, for which IT systems would need to be adapted. As a result implementation of the law reform was postponed for one year. Results of the SMS project were disseminated beyond the reference group in a number of ways. The Ministry of Justice announced the completion of the modeling effort in its communications on the Safety Plan. A flight simulator based on the model was used in training of new employees for different departments of the ministry. The process and results of the model were (and are) met with enthusiasm in many organizations, resulting in a number of other group model building projects on topics such as DNA sampling, traffic fines, and impact analyses on new legislation and policies.

More information on this case can be found in: Rouwette E.A.J.A., Vennix J.A.M., Van Hooff P., Jongebreur W. (2007). Modeling crime control in the Netherlands: insights on process. In Sterman, J.D., Oliva, R., Langer, R.S., Rowe, J.I., Yanni, J.M. (Eds.) Proceedings System Dynamics Conference Boston, 2007, cd-rom: 1-26.

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