The Inspection Process
CJI aims to ensure the identification of inspection topics is an inclusive, consultative process. Exploratory meetings are held with representatives of individual criminal justice organisations to identify outline topics.
CJI does not carry out inspections with the intention of ‘naming and shaming’ agencies/organisations; demotivating staff or damaging confidence in the justice system. At all times CJI endeavours to use inspection as a tool to secure improvement across the system acting as an independent, impartial, professional ‘critical friend.’ Inspectors follow the principles set out in the Operational Guidelines for Inspection
when conducting inspections of Criminal Justice organisations.
Prior to the start of every inspection, CJI will evaluate the inspection topic and determine whether it is an inspection it can carry out independently or one which would benefit from additional expertise supplied by a partner inspectorate or agency.
The decisions around the type of expertise and information required may depend on whether the inspection is of a single agency or a thematic inspection. A thematic inspection is one which covers more than one agency or organisation and therefore seeks to consider not only the way single agencies undertake work themselves but how they work in partnership with other organisations in the criminal justice system.
Once this decision is made at the outset of the inspection, CJI encourages the organisation/s under inspection to carry out a self assessment exercise if appropriate for the topic area, aimed at highlighting areas of good practice and areas within the organisation/s that would benefit from improvement.
The self-assessment is normally based on the Inspection Framework
used by CJI and Inspectors to advise CJOs on the process if requested. More detailed self asssessment guidance
is available to organisations if required. However If organisations have their own self-assessment process in place that satisfies the Inspection Framework
there is no requirement that CJOs should adopt the CJI process.
Inspectors will carry out research on the organisation/s and the topic being inspected in preparation for the fieldwork stage of the inspection process. During the fieldwork phase, Inspectors will visit the organisation/s and speak with senior management, middle managers and staff on the ground to obtain evidence to enable them to make judgements about the topic area within the organisation/s.
Inspectors also contact and consult customers of the agency and stakeholders from other organisations who work with the agency under inspection, or have an interest in the inspection topic, to gather as much information as possible on which to base their conclusions and recommendations.
Draft reports are initially prepared and shared internally with colleagues from the Inspection Team and senior management. The report is then shared with the inspected organisation/s for factual accuracy and comment.
Once the report has been agreed with the inspected organisation/s, they are invited to compile an action plan in response to the report recommendations. Whenever possible, CJI will endeavour to publish an organisation/s action plan along with its inspection report to show publicly how the organisation is actively seeking to address the Inspectorate’s recommendations.
After agreement has been reached, the Chief Inspector will submit its report to the Department of Justice and seek Ministerial approval to publish the report.
In order to meet its legislative requirements, the Minister for Justice must present CJI’s reports to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The inspection report then becomes a public document.
Between one and two years after the inspection report has been published, CJI will return to the organisation/s involved and undertake an action plan review/inspection follow-up review.
Inspectors will review the original inspection report and carry out research to assess the progress made towards completing either the agency’s action plan or carrying forward CJI’s recommendations.
A report is published on the findings and, depending on the outcome, the action plan will either be signed off as completed or CJI may decide to return to the agency after a period of time to review progress against incomplete actions.