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Stormont watchdog: Some organisations not implementing recommendations

They should focus on achieving change rather than trying to influence a report’s intonation, Northern Ireland’s criminal justice inspector said.


Stormont criminal justice chief inspector Jacqui Durkin said (CJINI/PA).

Stormont criminal justice chief inspector Jacqui Durkin said (CJINI/PA).

Stormont criminal justice chief inspector Jacqui Durkin said (CJINI/PA).

Some criminal justice organisations are not implementing recommendations, a Stormont watchdog said.

They should focus on achieving the required change rather than trying to influence her report’s intonation, the new chief criminal justice inspector Jacqui Durkin said.

She declined to “name and shame” particular parts of the system.

“It is disheartening for inspectors to repeat recommendations and see limited evidence of implementation when revisiting organisations.

“This is not an effective use of resources for Criminal Justice Inspection or the organisations inspected.

“More importantly, it does not actively demonstrate real commitment to continuous improvement and a better justice system for all.”

The inspectorate has helped spark root and branch reform of a Maghaberry jail which fellow inspectors in 2015 branded the most dangerous they had ever visited.

It has made a series of recommendations on issues like the protection of inmates from harm.

Senior officials from within the prison establishment including Maghaberry governor David Kennedy have said efforts to transform the estate have borne fruit and expressed deep commitment to reform.

Ms Durkin was recently appointed chief inspector of criminal justice following the retirement of Brendan McGuigan.

She recently told Stormont’s justice committee: “I am not going to name an organisation, because, if anything, it is much too soon to be doing that, even if I were minded to do so.

“What I can say is that it is not about catching out organisations.

“It is about creating a culture in which organisations are visibly and tangibly committed to continuous improvement.

“Really, they should not need an inspectorate coming in to shine a light on
some of the issues that they may know about themselves but have not had the space, strategic thinking or resources to do something about.”

She said you can fiercely guard and protect your independence without that meaning that you are not accountable.

“Some organisations perhaps adopt an approach through our factual accuracy check regime and process where they will spend much too long on a lot of micro-detail and try to influence a report’s intonation or how something is said.

“Rather than wasting energy on that, they should be focusing on the higher-level recommendations and on the outcome and recommendation that we are trying to achieve.

“As I said, it is a bit early to name and shame, and I am not entirely sure that I will ever be minded to do that, but, because of the level of change that we have all been through, we are fortunate that we have the justice system that we have, and that is down to the organisations involved and the leadership
shown in those organisations.

“Yes, there are plenty of opportunities and plenty of inspectorate activity that needs to be done, but there is a real sense of a lot of people wanting the system to be better than it is.”