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Authorities’ forecasts of the flow in the criminal process (2019:4)

On behalf of the Government, the Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) analysed the Police Authority's, the Prosecution Authority's, the National Courts Administration's and the Swedish Prison and Probation Service's work on preparing forecasts of operational volumes in the judicial chain. Since 2008, the authorities conduct this work on behalf of the Government and they also have support from the National Council on Crime Prevention. The authorities present the forecast work in a joint and annually recurring report.

Statskontoret's overall conclusion is that the current forecast work is not suitable. We believe that the benefit of the work is limited even if it has resulted in a better and more coherent picture of the volumes and the flow in the judicial chain. At the same time, we assess that the collective need for forecasts motivates that the authorities continue to be given this assignment, but that the assignment shall also be developed.

Benefit of the forecasts is limited

Statskontoret's investigation shows that the benefit of the forecasts is limited for the Government Offices as well as for the authorities. Neither the Police Authority nor the unit at the Ministry of Justice that works with the governance of the Police Authority have any benefit from the forecasts. The Prosecution Authority only uses the forecasts to a limited extent. This is also true of the unit at the Ministry of Justice that works with the governance of the Prosecution Authority. The authorities that are later in the judicial chain, the National Courts Administration and the Swedish Prison and Probation Service, have more use for the forecasts. The units in the Government Offices that govern these authorities also say that they have some use for the forecasts. The analysis and budget coordination functions at the Ministry of Justice and the budget department at the Ministry of Finance also have some use for them.

The Government Offices have difficulty to evaluate the contents of the forecast report. There are several explanations for this. The forecasts are not transparent enough and the affected officials are doubtful about the accuracy of the forecasts. This uncertainty leads to the Government and the Government Offices often having difficulty fully using the forecasts in the budget work and for governing the authorities. Another weakness is that the forecasts do not adequately capture the effects of political reforms or are capable of predicting breaks in the trend.
Our investigation also shows that the authorities use the forecasts in their own operations only to a limited extent. It is largely only the Swedish Prison and Probation Service and the National Courts Administration that use the forecasts as one of multiple inputs when they prepare their budget documentation. The Prison and Probation Service also has some use for the forecasts in their internal governance. One reason that the other authorities do not use the forecasts to any greater extent is that they believe that they are too limited. On the other hand, the authorities believe that the forecasts are also too general to be able to be used in a good way in operational planning and internal governance.

The authorities believe that it is unclear why they should prepare forecasts. It is thereby difficult to know how the work should be developed when they are not aware of the motive behind the Government's assignment.

Some positive effects of the assignment

But the joint assignment has also improved the authorities' forecast work in some ways and the work on the forecasts has also developed over time. We assess that there is today a better collective picture of the flow in the judicial chain than before. The authorities still work based on different volume measurements, but the measurements have been developed in various ways to better tie together the flow between the authorities. The joint work has also led to the authorities exchanging more information with each other than before. Both the authorities' own expertise and their knowledge of the other authorities have also developed over time.

Need for forecasts remains

We deem that the Government's need for forecasts of the volumes in the judicial chain is just as great today as when the authorities received the first assignment in 2008. Government authorities are more dependent on each other in the judicial chain than in most other areas of policy. The Government needs documentation to know if, when and where efforts in a later part of the chain can be expected to have the greatest effect in relation to the overall criminal and legal policy objectives.
At present, the Police Authority is receiving an increased appropriation. To achieve full effect from this increase, the operations in the other authorities in the judicial chain also need to be developed. The need to see what effects the efforts have on the various parts of the chain will in other words be extra great in the next few years.

Forecasting should be developed to increase the benefit

We find that the collective need for forecasts justifies the Government given a continued assignment to the authorities. But today's forecast work is not suitable. We therefore propose that the Government change and develop the assignment so that the benefit of the forecasts increases. Well formulated forecasts can be a support for the Government and the Government Offices, as well as the individual authorities. This is also true of the Police Authority and the Prosecution Authority and the units at the Ministry of Justice that today do not see any greater benefit from the forecasts.

In connection with the assignment developing, Statskontoret has the following aspects:

  • The Government should clarify the purpose of the assignment based on the Government's current needs.
  • The authorities should follow a common approach for how they prepare and present their forecasts. This means, for example, that the forecasts shall contain a streamlined statistical projection of the outcome and scenarios for clarifying conceivable development alternatives. But also a more qualified analysis of internal and external factors that affect the respective authority's operating volumes.
  • The National Council on Crime Prevention's support for the authorities should become more extensive and have broader expertise.

Altogether, the proposals mean that the forecast assignment becomes more comprehensive primarily for the authorities and initially also to some extent for the Government Offices. But we deem that the increased benefit of the forecasts will exceed the costs.