The standard methodology for joint thematic inspections was reviewed in 2023-24. Our current methodology was approved in January 2024 and can be accessed by clicking the hyperlink below. It sets out eight key principles that govern how joint thematic inspections will be carried out and then provides a set of core expectations for each stage of inspection, designed to assist those participating to ensure all relevant issues are discussed and agreed at the relevant stages to ensure effective and efficient inspections.

The core principles are:

1. Every CJJI inspection will have a collaborative and cohesive joint approach at all stages.

2. It is essential that there is a lead inspectorate to ensure that there is appropriate oversight and responsibility for delivering the inspection as well as production and publication of the joint report.

 3. The lead inspectorate, whilst being proactive in proposing scopes, detailed methodology, timescales and other key aspects of the inspection will not make unilateral decisions about any key aspect of scoping, methodology, assessment of findings and making judgements, drafting, recommendations or publication. In this context ‘key’ means any decision that directly impacts on the logistics, practicalities, range of evidence, findings, judgments or report.

 4.Inspectorates involved in CJJI inspections that are not leading will contribute to the making of key decisions so that the inspection and final report is jointly owned and delivered. This approach will ensure a truly joint approach throughout the course of inspections and model the partnership working we expect in the criminal justice system.

 5. All joint inspections will have regard to the 10 principles of public sector inspection. See annex 1.

 6. The participating inspectorates will each identify a lead inspector (and senior level oversight) for each thematic inspection prior to the development of the scope and methodology[1]. These lead inspectors, together with those overseeing the inspection, will have sufficient authority to make decisions on behalf of their inspectorate or be able to swiftly consult with the relevant person in their inspectorate where required. Wherever possible, there will be continuity of lead inspectors. They will update the inspection lead inspector as to availability to ensure that meeting dates and deadlines are jointly owned and realistic.

 7. All reports and material will be agreed jointly by all participating inspectorates prior to publication.

 8. A media strategy and press materials will be agreed jointly by all participating inspectorates prior to publication.

[1] There are different structures in each of the four inspectorates for oversight of joint inspections.

HMICFRS – lead inspector and the Portfolio Director/Assistant Portfolio Director. HMCPSI – lead inspector and the Deputy Chief Inspector. HMI Probation – lead inspector and the Head of Thematic and Joint Inspection. HMI Prisons – lead inspector and Team Leader.


CJJI-Standard methodology principles for Joint thematic Inspections (PDF, 419 kB)