The criminal justice system, overseen by the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General’s Office, is intended to protect the public and reduce reoffending, and to be transparent and responsive for victims and the public. It encompasses the functions of the police, prosecution, courts and judiciary, prisons, youth justice services and probation, costing together some £19 billion. The system comprises separate and independent agencies in order to ensure justice. But it also requires collaboration between all agencies, and the automated flow of information to ensure that offenders are processed promptly and efficiently from prosecution, conviction, incarceration to release and rehabilitation. Consistent collaboration and efficient information handling have not been achieved in the past, and spending reductions make achieving transformation still more imperative.
The White Paper Transforming the CJS, published in summer 2013, set out a two-year programme of reform. Some of these changes include reforming the prison estate by closing old and inefficient prisons and investing in modern accommodation; and the establishment in 2013 of the Criminal Justice Board, designed to ensure a ‘whole system’ approach. A minister has also been appointed with responsibility for Policing and Criminal Justice. The reforms are intended to address many of the systemic problems, however, there remains much to be done to tackle inefficiency and reduce the multiple points of failure within the system.