Leadership development ‘crucial’ to success of criminal justice system.

CJI Chief Inspector Jacqui Durkin has highlighted the importance of criminal justice organisations having effective leadership development and wellbeing strategies in its latest inspection report.
“This is the first time Inspectors have looked in detail at what criminal justice organisations are doing to develop current and future leaders and support the wellbeing of their staff,” said Ms Durkin. 
“We have a wide range of criminal justice organisations in Northern Ireland each with their own culture, structure and leadership styles, but what they all have in common is knowing that their staff are their best asset and developing effective leaders is crucial to delivering future change and organisational success.
“Delivering transformation and maintaining quality services in a difficult funding climate is dependent on leaders who give direction with clarity and confidence, who demonstrate public service values and can build skilled teams who can face the future with confidence.
“We found each of the inspected organisation had strategies in place that identified outcomes relating to their people or workforce, but there were also gaps which need to be addressed. Better succession planning where key current and future leadership skills and capabilities are identified and incorporated into workforce plans would be beneficial,” she said.  
Inspectors also identified a need for more effective evaluation of the effectiveness of leadership developments programmes, particularly around longer-term performance and outcomes that could inform and help shape the design and future delivery of similar programmes.
Staff working in each of the inspected organisations also had an opportunity to provide their views and experience of the leadership development and wellbeing support provided by their employer as part of the inspection fieldwork.
“Over 700 people from across the criminal justice system responded to our staff survey and a considerable number of people spoke to Inspectors about their own experiences. This information provided a valuable insight into areas of positive practice and other areas where improvements could be made,” said the Chief Inspector.
The report also focused on work being undertaken and attention being given to supporting staff wellbeing.
Ms Durkin said: “Inspectors found that staff in most organisations believed their line managers understood the importance of wellbeing, feedback from people in some organisations indicated that access to specialist support in times of difficulty could be slow and difficult to navigate. One of the big lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic was the importance of taking staff wellbeing seriously and the benefits that has for successful organisations.
“It is important criminal justice leaders work together to promote opportunities for new leaders to learn together about the criminal justice system and their part in it to enable opportunities for real partnerships to develop.
We hope the two strategic and four operational recommendations for improvement, including the introduction of a joint induction programme to assist new leaders to form connections so they can work collaboratively in the future, in this report will help achieve that,” said the Chief Inspector.