Part 2: Executive Summary

Co-ordination and Collaboration in the Criminal Justice Sector.


We set out to examine the way in which the four core agencies were working together to achieve the Government’s goals for the criminal justice sector. In particular, we sought to examine:

  • how the Ministry was discharging its responsibilities for co-ordinating policy advice and other strategic activities across the sector;
  • how the Ministry and the other agencies managed their relationships; and
  • how all agencies were consulting on plans, programme implementation, and the development of shared outcomes.

We identified many examples of good practice across the sector, and a strong commitment to sharing information and collaboration. Constructive personal relationships and inter-agency networks were often supported by formal protocols or understandings between the agencies, and played an important part in promoting a system-wide approach to strategy and policy development. The sector was responding positively to the need to work as a sector to meet Government priorities, and was taking positive steps to clarify roles and responsibilities and strengthen governance structures.

At the same time, the impact of one agency’s plans or activities on other agencies in the criminal justice sector had not always been well understood, creating risks for the completion of policy projects essential to meet Government strategic goals. The agencies had encountered difficulties in maintaining oversight of one complex project with sector-wide implications, under a tight Ministerial timetable. Important lessons have been learned, and new processes put in place for project oversight and managing risk.

We also identified a need for the sector to put in place mechanisms to coordinate planning and share information in some areas of core business. Collaboration avoids the risks of duplication, and is vital for coherent policy development. Working together and sharing information also promotes innovation, and enables individual agencies – and the sector as a whole – to respond more effectively to the demands of the Government and clients.

We focused on four key areas:

  • strategic planning;
  • policy development;
  • management of information systems; and
  • responding to Māori.

Our key findings and recommendations are set out below.

Setting a Strategic Direction

Key Findings

The Chief Executives Forum provides a useful means for the criminal justice sector to discuss matters of shared concern and provide sector leadership. However, Chief Executives were not always attending personally, not all agencies are represented at all meetings, and meetings are not held at regular intervals, making the Forum less effective for ongoing co-ordination and collaboration.

We identified five key areas where we expected to find formal networks in place to ensure ongoing co-ordination. The necessary formal networks were not always in place to support ongoing working relationships and promote collaboration. Some work in these areas remains fragmented, lacking a common approach to shared issues.

Personal relationships generally work well across the sector, supported by a range of formal arrangements.

The agencies have developed agreed shared outcomes statements.

The agencies are not yet reporting to the Government on their achievements as a sector, or monitoring their collective performance in relation to desired outcomes.


Chief Executives should support the Forum by attending all meetings. The Forum should meet regularly to ensure continuing co-ordination of sector initiatives, work programmes and projects.

The criminal justice agencies should consider options for integrating their work in the five areas that we identified: information systems, research and evaluation, sectoral planning and reporting, policy development, and responsiveness to Māori. One possible approach would be to establish a structure similar to that of the Justice Sector Information Committee.

The agencies should jointly develop a framework for measuring and reporting on achievements as a sector, and on performance in relation to the outcomes sought by Government.

Developing Policy

Key Findings

The purpose of purchase advice is to assist Ministers in making decisions on the level and priorities for Government spending on justice sector activities in order to achieve agreed outcomes. The Ministry provides policy advice in relation to eight justice sector votes. The Ministry’s process for evaluating proposals for new funding from the criminal justice agencies is governed by an agreed protocol, and is well defined, transparent, co-ordinated, and accepted by the agencies concerned.

A protocol governs decisions on leadership of policy work with implications for the sector. In practice, responsibility for leading specific policy tasks falls to the agency administering the relevant legislation. In other cases, it is decided by convention, agreements or, in some circumstances, through a more formal process. This arrangement works well.

Not all agencies consult on their draft policy work programmes, and any such consultation does not occur routinely. Regular consultation is important to:

  • keep all agencies informed about work priorities across the sector;
  • make agencies aware of potential impacts from other planned policy work;
  • enable agencies to modify their own programmes to avoid duplication or to complement other planned work; and
  • allow agencies to take advantage of opportunities to share resources or otherwise be involved in, or consulted as part of, specific policy work.

Agencies have taken some positive steps to co-ordinate their research and evaluation work. Some work programmes are shared, helping to avoid possible duplication. In addition, the agencies have collaborated on some projects, and the Ministry has promoted research work in the sector. However, limited sector-wide research is being undertaken.


Agencies should routinely consult on their draft policy work programmes to share information, identify common areas of interest, plan collaboration, and complement planned projects.

The reporting and accountability structure for the Crime Reduction Strategy could be used as a model for the oversight and implementation of other major Government strategies or legislative changes that have sector-wide implications in the future.

Sector Chief Executives should promote active and routine collaboration between research units in each of their agencies, in order to avoid duplication and provide an opportunity for considering what sector-wide research needs to be undertaken.

Co-ordinating Information Systems

Key Findings

Developed in 1996, the Justice Sector Information Strategy was due for review. An updated strategy was approved in 2003 for 2003-2006.

Overall responsibility for the new Justice Sector Information Strategy rests with the Chief Executives Forum. This arrangement should help improve collaboration between the agencies, enhance monitoring of information technology development, and clarify accountabilities.

The Justice Sector Information Strategy is founded on a number of agreed standards and principles that provide a framework for the use and exchange of information. Arrangements are in place for sharing data within the sector – subject to the constraints of privacy legislation.


The justice sector Chief Executives Forum and the Ministry should work to give effect to their responsibilities under the new Justice Sector Information Strategy 2003-2006. A key role for the Ministry should be to oversee the status of information technology systems in the sector, and evaluate sector-wide impacts of any planned changes, ensuring that information systems meet both the purposes of individual agencies and the needs of other users of those systems.

Responding to Māori

Key Findings

There is no sectoral response to Māori in the criminal justice system that would enable agencies to share good practice or co-ordinate their efforts to respond effectively to Māori as clients and stakeholders.

The criminal justice agencies have responded to Māori in quite different ways, establishing their own structures and arrangements in isolation from other agencies in the sector.

The agencies recognise the significance of their relationship with Māori as Treaty partners and as offenders and victims of crime.

Agencies gather and hold considerable data about their interactions with Māori, and have information about the impact of Māori offending on their individual businesses. However, we found no evidence that agencies share this information so as to enable the sector to develop a co-ordinated response to Māori interactions with the criminal justice system.

The sector agencies vary in the soundness of their relationship with Te Puni Kōkiri – limiting their ability to work together to achieve positive outcomes for Māori.


The Department of Corrections has produced a Framework for Reducing Māori Offending. Other agencies could consider using this framework for their policy development, adapted to their individual circumstances.

The Police and the Department of Corrections have Māori advisory groups that advise the Commissioner and the Chief Executive. We encourage all justice sector agencies to consider establishing such groups, which can serve as a valuable advisory resource for their Chief Executive, providing a Māori community perspective on issues for the agency.

An integrated sectoral strategy should be developed to focus on system-wide outcomes for Māori. The existing justice sector Chief Executives Forum should consider establishing a senior officials Forum to develop this strategy.

Sector agencies and Te Puni Kōkiri should ensure constructive relationships exist to work together on issues for Māori.

Development and Implementation of the Sentencing and Parole Legislation

The Sentencing Act 2002 and the Parole Act 2002 came into force on 30 June 2002, and were the culmination of a period of intense policy development across the criminal justice sector. Together they substantially replaced the Criminal Justice Act 1985 and reformed the law in four areas:

  • general sentencing purposes and principles;
  • range of sentences and orders available to the courts;
  • sentencing for murder and high-risk offenders; and
  • parole and final release of offenders from prison.

The development and implementation of this legislation posed significant challenges for the criminal justice sector. The project tested the ability of the core criminal justice agencies to work together and manage a complex and evolving policy development process to a tight timeframe. This case study considers the process followed by the four agencies to bring the new legislation into force on 30 June 2002. We examined:

  • governance arrangements;
  • policy development; and
  • the development of the information technology systems necessary to implement the Bill.

Key Findings

The Ministry led the development of the new sentencing and parole legislation, and so was responsible for managing wide-ranging consultation on policy issues to a demanding timetable, reconciling a range of agency views, and obtaining from Ministers those decisions necessary for the legislation to be drafted.

Although the Ministry’s leadership role provided a valuable focus for policy work in the sector, the project was already well advanced before effective governance arrangements were put in place. As a result, the necessary sector-wide project planning was not undertaken to co-ordinate project management, mitigate risks and develop contingency plans. The short timetable (passing of the legislation was a Government priority) made sector planning a particularly important dimension of project governance, so that the agencies could respond effectively to the expectations of Ministers.

Only one agency undertook the necessary comprehensive project planning to identify risks and impacts for its business, and to develop action plans. The absence of detailed agency project plans led to a failure to clearly identify, at the outset of the project, vital inter-agency dependencies having an impact on supporting project tasks, such as the development of information technology infrastructure and changes to business operations.

Given the number of issues to be considered, the extent of consultation required, and the work needed to prepare for implementation of the legislation, policy development and drafting of the legislation was undertaken within a very short timeframe. The requirement to develop policy and prepare and implement new legislation within two-and-a-half years placed considerable pressure on the agencies involved. The consultation process was rushed, with agencies having little time to comment comprehensively on policy papers.

This project showed that the time it takes to design, build or modify major information technology systems can constrain the policy development process. Conversely, policy changes can require significant changes to information systems and supporting infrastructure. There was no cohesive sector-wide strategy that coordinated the information technology work required to prepare for and implement the proposed legislation.

The Department for Courts had difficulty preparing its information systems to meet the July 2002 deadline, but alerted other agencies to likely delays only when the project was already well advanced. This left the sector limited time to consider options and seek Ministerial approval to a revised approach. The sector worked well together to recover from delays in the Department for Courts to meet the 1 July 2002 implementation deadline.


The criminal justice sector agencies should draw lessons from the events and processes surrounding development of the sentencing and parole legislation for the future management of projects with sector impacts, including:

  • sector-wide governance, including leadership, oversight and monitoring;
  • project planning, risk management and contingency planning; and
  • integration of sector information technology, strategy, and policy development.
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