Corporate report

Single departmental plan: 2015 to 2020

Published 19 February 2016

This includes £6.2 billion resource DEL and £0.4 billion capital DEL (totals may not sum due to rounding).

Source: Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015


The Ministry of Justice is working collaboratively with the Cabinet Office, HM Treasury and other government departments to make every part of government more efficient.

To that end we are reviewing how we provide our services online, seeking wherever possible to meet the common standards set by the Government Digital Service. We will use cross-government platforms such as GOV.UK Verify, GOV.UK Pay or GOV.UK Notify wherever possible. We’ll only depart from that if we can secure better value for the taxpayer by other means.

We’ll also do everything we can to use property more sensibly. We’ll get rid of surplus buildings, share premises with other government departments where possible and play our part in releasing more land for housing development.

We’ll negotiate better deals on other goods and services we need, working in partnership with the Crown Commercial Service; and we hope that we can help fulfil the government’s commitment that a third of its spending will go to small and medium sized businesses by 2020.

We will also work in partnership with the Cabinet Office to overhaul how the Arm’s Length Bodies we work with operate. We’ll work with the new Infrastructure and Projects Authority to help ensure our big investments, like reform of the courts and tribunals happen on time and budget. And we’ll do everything we can to protect taxpayers’ money from fraud and error alongside developing a debt management strategy.

Our ministers and management


1. Improve public safety and reduce reoffending by reforming prisons, probation and youth justice

Lead Minister: Andrew Selous MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prisons, Probation, Rehabilitation and Sentencing

Lead officials: Michael Spurr, Chief Executive, National Offender Management Service and Indra Morris, Director General, Prisons Policy, Strategy and Change

1.1 What MOJ is doing

Our principal duty is upholding the law and keeping people safe. That means we need to punish law-breaking, and seek to reduce crime.

Many offenders commit crimes so serious, or so persistently, that they must be imprisoned. Custodial sentences contribute to public safety by keeping criminals off the streets. But 99% of criminals in jail will eventually be released one day. And, at the moment, far too many of them go on to commit crimes again.

There are around 85,000 offenders in our prisons but, despite the best efforts of everyone in the system the latest reoffending rate for adults released from custody is 45.8%. The situation with young offenders is even worse: 67.1% of those released from custody go on to reoffend. That must change.

Making sure these offenders are no longer liabilities we have to manage but potential assets, who will contribute positively to society, is the driving force behind our comprehensive programme of prison reform and our reform of the youth justice system.

We will change the way we run prisons so there is an unremitting emphasis on rehabilitation and redemption. Governors will have more freedom to innovate alongside sharper incentives and more focused performance management to drive better outcomes.

We will announce soon further details about the creation of 6 new ‘Reform Prisons’, prisons in the public sector where talented governors will be given more freedom over budgets, staffing and their relationships with business and charities.

We will ensure the innovations they pioneer are shared across the system and will introduce a Prisons Bill in the new parliamentary session to support innovation across the entire estate.

We are taking more action on drugs, corruption and mobile phones. We’ve legislated to criminalise possession of so-called legal highs in prison. We will work with mobile network operators to challenge them to do more, including developing new technological solutions, so we can block mobile phones’ signals in prisons and we’re developing a new Corruption Prevention Strategy to deal with the small number of corrupt staff who allow contraband in our prisons.

We want all prisons to be places of hard work, rigorous education and high ambition.

So we will protect spending on prison education in cash terms, give governors more control of their education budgets and overhaul how qualifications are funded and offered to offenders.

We will also make it easier for governors to allow prisoners to work with outside enterprises, extend Release on Temporary Licence and make it easier for offenders to be interviewed and obtain secure jobs on release.

We will help prisoners with mental health problems get the treatment they need by allowing governors to co-commission therapies with the NHS.

We will protect society from the dangers of prisoners being radicalised in our care by developing new counter-extremism strategies in our prisons.

We will ensure there is more humane treatment of female prisoners with children and a new emphasis on helping prisoners’ families support offenders to stay out of crime.

We will also review the youth justice system, and as part of this consider a new generation of secure schools to ensure we achieve the best outcomes for children who are remanded or sentenced to custody.

We will close old inefficient prisons and replace with new, modern prisons that will support better education and other rehabilitative services.

And we will build on our reform of probation to ensure offenders are monitored and supported effectively after they have left custody. In the last Parliament we ensured, for the very first time, that every offender, sentenced to more than a day in prison is supervised properly on release. In the past, offenders sentenced to terms of less than 12 months had next to no support. The Transforming Rehabilitation reforms which extended the reach of probation also brought more commercial expertise and charitable energy into reducing reoffending and we will support the innovative work now being done by more and more Community Rehabilitation Companies.

1.2 How MOJ is doing

  • Transforming Rehabilitation went live on 1 February 2015 – but we will monitor the performance of Community Rehabilitation Companies against payment-by-results metrics and take action to ensure they are given every chance to change more lives.

  • We will publish new prison league tables to measure performance in areas such as hours spent by prisoners out of their cell, levels of purposeful activity, educational value added, suitable qualifications acquired, effective care and support of staff and other metrics. We will consult with prison staff and governors on how these league tables might best be designed.

  • We will publish open and transparent figures for deaths in custody, assaults on prisoners, assaults on staff, staff turnover overall and by institution, reducing overcrowding, reducing re-offending, qualifications gained and jobs secured to ensure others can hold us to account. Our current performance can be found here.

  • We will support our new Chief Inspectors of Prisons and Probation to report honestly and unsparingly on where we need to improve.

  • We will open up as much data as possible overall across the MOJ and the National Offender Management Service to enable researchers, academics, charities, the media and the wider public understand what is happening in the criminal justice system and we will welcome media scrutiny of the progress we make.

2. Build a One Nation justice system by making access to justice swifter and more certain for all citizens whatever their background

Lead Minister: Shailesh Vara MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid

Lead officials: Catherine Lee, Director General, Justice and Courts Policy Group, Natalie Ceeney, Chief Executive, HM Courts and Tribunals Service and Matthew Coats, Chief Executive of the Legal Aid Agency and Chief Operating Officer

2.1 What MOJ is doing

Citizens deserve swift and certain justice. The great American criminologist James Q Wilson has shown that the quicker - and more effectively - punishment is administered after any crime is committed, the more effective a justice system will be.

Criminals, typically, act impulsively and gamble that the justice system will be too slow and unwieldy to deal with them effectively. Many offenders know that if they play a waiting game they may be able to evade justice.

But swiftness is the very last characteristic anyone would associate with the justice system at the moment. Between April and June 2015, the average time taken to deal with cases from offence to acquittal or sentence – in other words the time we took to do right by the victim – was 266 days for cases dealt with in the Crown Court.

Victims should not have to wait for nearly 9 months after they have been robbed or assaulted to see justice done. Especially when, the longer they wait, the less certain justice may be.

And it’s not just in the criminal justice system that delay, cost and complexity work against the public interest.

In the civil jurisdiction, businesses see costs pile up and individuals have their rights frustrated because of inefficient and costly administrative processes. Similar issues are apparent in tribunals.

We have, it is true, thanks to the leadership of Sir James Munby, made significant progress in speeding up adoption and children in care cases in the family jurisdiction. But there is still too much delay and uncertainty for these children.

We must renew public confidence in all parts of our justice system by reducing delays, giving people more control and better protecting the vulnerable.

So we are embarking on the biggest programme of courts reform undertaken anywhere in the world.

We will ensure victims of crime are treated better by placing the introducing a Victims’ Code Law on a statutory basis and, most importantly of all, we will make the delivery of justice faster and more efficient.

We will implement the criminal justice reform proposals of Sir Brian Leveson. We will strip out unnecessary stages in the journey to trial, providing judges with the tools to manage cases effectively and accelerate them through the system, use email and other technologies to replace time-consuming face-to-face conferences and hearings and explore how more cases might be dealt with by magistrates.

When citizens and legal professionals do need to be in a court room, we will improve their experience with modern buildings, reduced waiting times and an improved service. We will empower users by giving them quick and easy online access to information about their case, and updates on progress. We will also unburden court users and the system from endless bundles of papers, through initiatives like the new Digital Case System in the Crown Court, which allows parties to easily and quickly access case files electronically.

We will also explore the potential of ‘problem-solving courts’ to deal with specific types of offender such as those with drug or alcohol problems. A joint working group has been set up between the MOJ and the Lord Chief Justice to see how we can create more new courts where the sentencer is intimately involved in the rehabilitation of the offender.

In the civil courts we will work with Lord Dyson and Lord Justice Briggs to ensure more work is done online, costs are reduced and the bewildering complexity of so many procedures is simplified.

In tribunals, we will work with Sir Ernest Ryder to develop a service that meets expectations of users in the digital age.

And in the family courts we will take steps to simplify and remove conflict from private family law proceedings while exploring how we can use the family courts to get children at risk of harm or abuse into a safe environment as quickly as possible.

While we modernise our courts, we will continue to make sure that resources are provided to secure access to justice. Legal aid will continue to be available where people’s life or liberty is at stake, where they face the loss of their home, in domestic violence cases or where their children may be taken into care. We will also work with the profession and regulators to drive up quality of representation for clients.

2.2 How MOJ is doing

  • We will publish details on the progress we are making to fulfil Sir Brian Leveson’s recommendations

  • We will monitor the time it takes to bring prosecutions, expedite trials and secure verdicts, so progress is made towards swifter justice. Our current performance can be found here

  • We will publish our Crown Court Performance Tool to enable us to learn from the best-performing courtrooms and case managers

  • We will monitor how costs can be reduced in civil proceedings

  • We will monitor progress towards meeting our target that children in care cases should not take more than 26 weeks. Our current performance can be found here

  • We will set flexible but rigorous deadlines for the implementation of IT changes across the justice system so we can learn from each extension of digital working and refine our approach to technology overall.

3. Uphold the rule of law, defend the independence of the judiciary, safeguard essential liberties and restore historic freedoms

Lead Ministers: Dominic Raab MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Human Rights and Lord Faulks QC

Lead official: Catherine Lee, Director General Justice and Courts Policy Group

3.1 What MOJ is doing

We will protect the fundamental freedoms we all cherish. We will support victims, and protect and safeguard children and those most at risk. Liberties will be safeguarded, human rights defended, and social justice secured. We will uphold the constitutional framework, fulfil our duties in upholding the rule of law and defend judicial independence, including through the Lord Chancellor’s duties for the judiciary, the courts and continued access to justice.

Britain has a long history of protecting human rights at home and standing up for those values abroad. The sealing of Magna Carta in 1215, the establishment of Parliaments, from the time of Simon de Montfort onwards to check the power of the executive, the commitment to trial by jury, the development of habeas corpus, the use of judicial review and the extension of the franchise are all British innovations, stretching over 800 years, which underline our national commitment to liberty.

The original European Convention on Human Rights is itself, in large part, a British creation as British lawyers sought to help continental nations rediscover traditions of liberty eclipsed by dictatorship and war in the 1930s and 1940s.

But, over time, the good name of human rights and the robust traditions of British liberty have been damaged by incursions from European Courts which have not always respected our constitutional practices.

In 1998, a set of constitutional reforms were passed, including the Human Rights Act, which are now ripe for review. This government was elected with a mandate to reform and modernise the UK human rights framework.

That’s why we will bring forward proposals for a Bill of Rights, which will replace the Human Rights Act. Our Bill will protect fundamental human rights, but also prevent their abuse and restore some common sense to the system.

It will be based on the rights in the original European Convention on Human Rights, while also taking into account our Common Law traditions and commitment to free speech and parliamentary sovereignty. It will make clear where the balance should lie between Strasbourg and British courts.

We will fully consult on our proposals before introducing legislation.

3.2 How MOJ is doing

  • We will publish our proposals on human rights later this year.

  • We will consult widely on our proposals, across civil society, and the devolved administrations.

  • We will support and strengthen our independent judiciary, ensuring they have the resources to see justice done.

4. Delivering efficiently in MOJ: ensure the best possible service for citizens by making our department more efficient and more open, with policy driven by evidence

Lead Minister: Michael Gove MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

Lead official: Richard Heaton, Permanent Secretary

4.1 What MOJ is doing

We will reform MOJ to create a smarter, simpler and more efficient department in which policy is driven by improved data and evidence.

We will reduce our administrative budget by 50% by 2019 to 2020 by driving efficiencies throughout non-frontline functions and spend.

We will focus MOJ’s resources on our reform priorities while reducing the size of the Whitehall department. We will support public service innovation by improving our evidence about what works, and by reducing centralised bureaucracy and control.

Our policy resources will be aligned to ministerial reform priorities. We will reduce duplication and develop policy in a more transparent and open way.

We will put evidence at the heart of what we do. We will improve our data, analysis and research capability, so that we can give officials and frontline staff access to evidence about what works, helping to deliver the best outcomes for citizens.

This will include the creation of a new Data, Evidence and Science Advisory Board chaired by Sir Michael Barber. We will also build on the success of the Justice Data Lab by exploring ways of opening our data, learning from academia and drawing on evidence of best practice internationally.

4.2 How MOJ is doing

  • We have identified £280m savings over the course of the Parliament to meet the administrative budget reduction target and are developing detailed plans to deliver these savings.
  • We will ensure both that the overall size and the cost per square metre of the department’s property portfolio falls.
  • We will demonstrate that our staff are deployed as effectively as possible by being fully transparent about staffing numbers and costs.
  • We will publish the cost and nature of every item of HQ expenditure above £25,000.
  • We will improve our debt collection year on year as per the MOJ Debt Management Strategy.