Part 3: Setting a Strategic Direction

Co-ordination and Collaboration in the Criminal Justice Sector.

Key Findings

The Chief Executives Forum (see paragraphs 3.21-3.23 on page 35) 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 always 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.


For agencies to work together effectively to achieve the Government’s sector goals, there must be:

  • a commitment by chief executives to consult and collaborate on areas of core business;
  • a framework for the development of sector planning, project management and reporting; and
  • strong strategic leadership, to provide a model for staff from different agencies to work together in their day-to-day operations.

To determine what strategic co-ordination exists within the criminal justice sector, we examined:

  • relationships between the sector agencies;
  • strategic planning in the sector; and
  • sectoral performance measurement and monitoring.

Relationships Between the Agencies

We examined:

  • perceptions of relationships between agencies, and formal arrangements supporting such relationships; and
  • sector leadership.

Relationships and Formal Arrangements to Support Them

Informal networks are often a vital ingredient of constructive working relationships – especially where these relationships rely heavily on interpersonal trust and the positive attitudes of particular individuals. However, informal networks are not, of themselves, evidence that processes for co-ordination and collaboration are effective. Informal networks may also develop where formal relationships are not seen to be working, or where they are absent.

In circumstances where the sharing of information or other transactions (such as consultation and collaboration) are essential to the conduct of core business activities, accepted formal arrangements provide a reliable means of governing the working relationships between organisations and individuals.

The relationships between the officials in the agencies were constructive, and strong informal relationships played an important part in fostering collaboration.

The three operational agencies have formalised their relationships with each other through the use of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs). Due to their daily operational interactions, these agencies have a much greater focus on defining and formally articulating the process for engagement with each other than they do with the Ministry.

The Department of Corrections has signed a series of MoUs with the other criminal justice sector agencies and also with certain other government agencies. These MoUs commonly include the following terms:
• purpose of the MoU;
• an agreement to consult;
• an agreement about information sharing;
• communication and media strategies;
• a mechanism by which the agreement is monitored; and
• review and termination of the agreement.

Sector Leadership

The Ministry has accepted a strategic role for leading debate on key justice sector issues. It convenes various working groups and standing committees to co-ordinate sector activities in areas such as information technology and research. We found no evidence that other criminal justice agencies disputed the Ministry’s interpretation of its lead role.

With no formal mandate to lead the sector on issues of common interest, the Ministry must rely on the acceptance of other agencies. In some circumstances, this leadership role may not fall naturally to the Ministry. We were told of particular circumstances where unclear leadership had blurred accountability, such as leadership of the Youth Offending Strategy (see boxed text on the next page). Strengthening the collegial roles of the Chief Executives of the justice agencies, and establishing a broader basis for collaboration in areas of core business (such as policy development, information technology and responsiveness to Māori), would help to clarify the respective roles of the Ministry and other agencies in the sector.

In many instances, it will be clear which agency should most appropriately lead a given policy project. In other cases, or to ensure that leadership is clearly mandated, it is appropriate to seek a direction from Ministers, as illustrated in the boxed text below.

Leadership of the Youth Offending Strategy
The Ministry has been directed by Ministers to lead particular policy tasks. The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry for Social Development jointly led the development of the Youth Offending Strategy. In September 2002, the Government gave the Ministry of Justice the sole leadership role for youth justice, to improve clarity over lines of accountability, responsibility for leadership and effective project implementation.

Ideally, consultation should be planned, give agencies adequate time to respond, and take into account their operational requirements. Some agencies expressed concern that consultation on projects affecting them can occur too late for considered comment.

In practice, consultation may be subject to a variety of constraints, depending on the particular circumstances. Ministerial directives may limit time available for consultation on policy proposals, and draft legislation may need to be finalised at short notice to meet a Government deadline. These factors can limit the involvement of consulted agencies. In such circumstances, lead agencies should make any time constraints clear.

The Chief Executives Forum

The Chief Executives of the Ministry, the Department for Courts, the Department of Corrections, the Police, the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, and the Crown Law Office have an arrangement to meet monthly to discuss matters of common interest. The Ministry services the Forum.

The Ministry has informed us that Chief Executives have taken the view that they should attend meetings personally in order to foster collegiality. We agree with this view, and consider that meetings should be held regularly, with attendance by the Chief Executives of all the core criminal justice agencies.

We analysed attendance at the Forum by the four core agencies over a 15- month period, and found that it varied. In some cases, agencies were represented by a nominee rather than by the Chief Executive themselves. The Forum met ten times during that period, and only two agencies were represented at all of the meetings.

Maintaining Working Networks Across the Sector

We identified five key areas where, in our view, the activities of the criminal justice agencies could usefully be co-ordinated. To some extent, as discussed below, this is already occurring. We consider the arrangement for implementation of the Justice Sector Information Strategy could usefully be applied to other areas where no formal structure currently exists.

The five areas we have identified as requiring a cross-agency approach are:

  • Information Systems;
  • Research and Evaluation;
  • Sectoral Planning and Reporting;
  • Policy Development; and
  • Responsiveness to Māori.

Groups covering information technology, and research and evaluation, already exist and may provide a useful model for other areas of collaboration. We consider that priority should be given to collective sector planning and reporting, building on the justice sector outcomes agreed this year.

If established as standing working groups under the umbrella of the Chief Executives Forum (in a similar manner to the Justice Sector Information Committee), these groups could meet regularly and report back to the Chief Executives Forum on a regular basis. The criminal justice agencies should consider this, and other options, for integrating their work in these core areas of activity.

Issue Specific Groups

A range of ad hoc groups exist which are primarily issue-specific. Many of these relate to information technology. Other groups include:

  • youth justice senior officials;
  • criminal records (clean slate) senior officials; and
  • Crime Reduction Strategy senior officials.

In addition, second-tier policy managers meet bi-monthly for more general discussions.

Strategic Planning

A comprehensive strategic plan for the criminal justice sector would:

  • outline the high-level aims, objectives and performance targets for the sector to achieve over the coming period, consistent with the outcomes sought by the Government;
  • specify the resources available for reducing crime; and
  • set broad priorities for spending across the sector.

Producing such a plan requires a commitment by each agency to a common set of outcomes, and to a collective business planning process.

The agencies have developed agreed shared outcomes statements. However, most agencies were developing their own business plans without entering into consultation with other agencies in the sector.

The Development of Shared Outcomes Statements

Led by the Ministry, the criminal justice agencies have developed shared outcomes state ments. Officials from the various agencies worked together to produce draft outcomes statements and submitted them to be discussed at the Chief Executives Forum. The agreed statements should encourage co-ordinated policy-making and service delivery between the agencies.

Strategic Planning Processes

There are no formal processes for the criminal justice agencies to plan as a coordinated sector. As a result, each agency decides whether it will involve the other sector agencies in its planning processes. For example, the Department of Corrections is developing a new strategic plan. Before beginning to draft the plan, it chose to consult several other agencies and asked them what they considered to be the major issues for the Department. After taking into account the comments of those agencies, the Department circulated a first draft of its strategic plan to those agencies for further comment.

The Ministry has recommended a new planning framework be set up which would provide an opportunity for agencies to agree on common priorities. Such a framework would involve:

  • sector Chief Executives agreeing on sector goals and priorities that are consistent with the Government’s overall goals;
  • justice sector Ministers considering what new initiatives should be priorities for funding, based upon the agreed goals and priorities;
  • agreed outcomes and priorities being reflected in agencies’ Statements of Intent; and
  • accountability for achieving agreed sector outcomes being reflected in Chief Executives’ performance agreements.

We endorse this approach as a valuable means for the agencies to progress sector planning.


The criminal justice agencies deal with many of the same clients, who pass from one agency to another. To predict demand, and plan for their business needs, each agency must be able to depend on, and have ready access to, forecasts by other agencies in the sector. We asked the agencies what forecasts they prepared, and how they used the forecasts prepared by other agencies.

The Ministry has the primary role in preparing forecasts for the justice sector. Other agencies rely on this information to predict their own business needs – for example, the Department of Corrections uses Ministry forecasts to estimate future demand for prison services. The Department for Courts and the Department of Corrections also have their own forecasting units.

The nature and extent of forecasting differed among agencies, as they often needed quite specific information peculiar to their particular business needs. The Fifth Schedule to the Privacy Act 1993 has, in some cases, prevented agencies from sharing data. Some forecasts are limited in scope, in that they do not encompass data from certain parts of the criminal justice system, or make projections for different periods. Data sets are sometimes incomplete as a result.

Some arrangements exist between agencies for shared data access, and each agency’s operational system has interfaces with one or more other agencies, with information shared by way of a secure network. The Ministry has identified the need for greater shared knowledge about data sets held by the various agencies:

  • who owns them;
  • how they should be interpreted; and
  • how they can be used to improve the quality of forecasting and for research, policy development and measuring sector performance.

This need has been recognised as a key focus for the new Justice Sector Information Strategy.

Performance Monitoring and Measurement

The criminal justice sector has yet to develop a framework for measuring its achievements against targets relevant to a set of agreed outcomes. A number of steps will need to be taken before this can happen, including:

  • agreed performance targets derived from the agreed outcomes;
  • integrated strategic planning for the sector, specifying priorities, initiatives, and measurable objectives; and
  • authority and capacity to collate and analyse the results of agency performance, making it possible to report to the Government and Parliament against sector goals.
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