Limited evidence that local criminal justice partnerships are making a positive difference – CJJI report

Local criminal justice partnerships (LCJPs) are failing to improve and resolve complexity in the criminal justice system, according to a report published today by HMIC, HMCPSI and HMI Probation. The report calls for the national Criminal Justice Board to provide greater direction, and a fresh approach to collaboration by criminal justice agencies at all levels.

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Working in step? A joint inspection of local criminal justice partnerships by HMIC, HMCPSI and HMI Probation

Local criminal justice partnerships (LCJP) are non-statutory bodies whose purpose is to contribute to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system at a local level, by bringing together the right partners – such as the police, CPS and the Courts – at the right time, agreeing shared priorities and working collectively.

This inspection conducted fieldwork in six forces and examined the results of a survey to assess how LCJPs work, and whether they make a difference. Inspectors concluded that LCJPs were insufficiently visible, accountable or influential.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said:

“There is a common understanding that for criminal justice to work efficiently and effectively, the individual agencies need to work together in partnership with a shared purpose.  Our inspection found that, whilst there is enthusiasm for joint partnership working among criminal justice agencies, LCJPs are not consistently providing the mechanism for this.  The risk is that the criminal justice system will not work efficiently and in the best possible support of victims.

“The findings of our inspection are disappointing.  However, with a newly constituted national criminal justice board in place, this is a valuable opportunity to provide a new vision for partnership working.”

Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service, Kevin McGinty said:

“An effective and efficient Criminal Justice System requires the different agencies that make it up to work together to achieve the quality of justice we expect.

“This report looks at how effectively they work together towards that goal through the operation of local criminal justice boards.  The report identifies examples of both good and poor practice and will be of interest to anyone who works in, or is affected by, the criminal justice system”

The inspection included detailed interviews in six police force areas and a national survey of all local areas in England and Wales.

Inspectors found:

  • there are LCJPs across most of England and Wales, with members including
    the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Court Service, and senior representatives of voluntary sector, prisons, youth offending services, probation services and Police and Crime Commissioners;
  • despite a broad membership (including representatives from the police, CPS, the Court Service, prisons, youth offending services, probation services and Police and Crime Commissioners) LCJPs are not making a sufficiently positive difference;
  • LCJPs do not agree their local priorities in any rigorous way, for example by looking at risks;
  • examples where, despite a partnership being in place, the action of one agency was having an adverse effect on the ability of other agencies to serve victims and manage offenders;
  • where there is progress, it is generally driven by a national programme, and usually involves only a few of the agencies, bypassing the LCJP.  While this might be the most efficient way of doing things in some instances, there is a risk that if all issues are handled in this way, there will be further unforeseen negative consequences; and
  • LCJP members are to some extent impeded and constrained by barriers beyond their control, such as the lack of consistent geographical boundaries, nationally set priorities and programmes, and targets or objectives of individual agencies that can adversely impact on the performance of others.  

The report recommends that there should be a national operating framework to enable local criminal justice agencies to work together more effectively.

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Working in step? A joint inspection of local criminal justice partnerships by HMIC, HMCPSI and HMI Probation

Notes to Editors

  1. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing bodies.
  2. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation is an independent inspectorate, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, and reporting directly to the Secretary of State on the effectiveness of work with individual adults, children and young people who offend, aimed at reducing reoffending and protecting the public.
  3. Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) inspects the work carried out by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and other prosecuting agencies. The purpose of our work is to enhance the quality of justice and make an assessment of prosecution services that enables or leads to improvement in their efficiency effectiveness and fairness.
  4. For further information, HMIC’s press office can be contacted during office hours from 8:30am – 5:30pm Monday – Friday on 0203 513 0600.
  5. HMIC’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217 729.