Ministry of Justice and the environment

Embedding sustainability on the MOJ estate.

Sustainable development

Sustainable development is about applying economic, social and environmental thinking to an issue and paying particular attention to the long-term consequences. It can be thought of as a long-term, integrated approach to achieving quality of life improvements whilst respecting the need to live within environmental limits.

Embedding sustainability

Embedding Sustainable Development in our business and operations is a shared responsibility within MOJ. The Chief Operating Officer acts as MOJ’s Sustainability Champion and chairs the Senior Sustainability Board which includes representatives from a wide range of business units, our agencies and arms-length bodies. It is responsible for developing and overseeing the implementation of our sustainability strategy and supporting policy, standards, rules and guidance.

Sustainable operations

MOJ’s Sustainable Operations Strategy sets out how we embed environmental sustainability throughout our estate, operations and procurement activity.

As the second largest estate in government we play an important role in ensuring that the government meets its Greening Government Commitments. Energy, water and waste are managed to deliver a lower carbon, more resource efficient estate whilst reducing our operating costs and delivering value for money. Within our procurement processes and contracts, we are ensuring that there are specific sustainability clauses and measurable KPIs.

We have developed a range of sustainability strategies and policies for our staff and supply chain to follow:

Adaptation to the impacts of climate change

MOJ is working towards increasing climate resilience and maintaining the operational capacity of the estate in an ever-changing climate. We participate in cross-Government Climate Change Adaptation activity.

The effects of climate change, such as flooding and overheating, are likely to become an increasingly important consideration, particularly on our custodial estate. We are embedding climate resilience in our new Prison Estate Transformation Programme. Planning for future changes will minimise future costs and damage caused by the effects of climate change.

We have published our Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (PDF, 607KB, 25 pages).

Biodiversity and ecology

MOJ’s estate is one of the largest and most diverse across government, with a wealth of priority species and habitats reflecting a broad, dynamic and biologically diverse landscape. MOJ’s Biodiversity Policy supports our work towards restoring our Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) to a favourable condition.

We have 10 sites that border or fall within a SSSI:

  • HMP Coldingley, Woking - Bisley common Bagshot Heath SSSI
  • HMP Dartmoor, Yalverton - Dartmoor National Park
  • HMP Frankland, Durham - Brasside Ponds SSSI
  • HMP Haverigg, Cumbria - Duddon Estuary SSSI
  • HMP Hewell, Redditch - Hewell Park lake SSSI, Listed Parkland Landscape
  • HMP North Sea Camp, Boston - The Wash
  • HMYOI Portland and HMP The Verne, Isle of Portland SSSI
  • HMP Prescoed, Usk - Cilwrgi Quarry SSSI
  • Snaresbrook Crown Court, London - Epping Forest SSSI

We value the importance of conserving and, where operationally feasible, restoring our SSSIs and biodiversity significant sites. We are also taking steps to alleviate pressures on protected species, whilst ensuring we manage our priority habitats and landscapes based on a landscape scale ecosystem approach.

MOJ operates an Ecology network comprising volunteers, biodiversity champions and third sector partnerships from some of the UK’s major wildlife societies and trusts. This network operates a national wildlife award scheme across the HMPPS estate, which recognises community support, restorative justice and creative learning and skills for custodial and non-custodial offenders, whilst supporting offending rehabilitation programmes.

MOJ is committed to supporting a national strategy where biodiversity is maintained and enhanced. Its Biennial ecology update 2016 to 2018 (PDF, 3.63MB, 56 pages) demonstrates its commitment to biodiversity, and to fulfilling its obligations both legislatively, and to the governments challenging biodiversity 2020 outcomes.

This report reveals and exhibits a broad variety of biodiversity projects, which encompass social and community engagement, and restorative justice projects for nature; and also displays MOJ’s continuing commitment to biodiversity across its estate.

Communities and social engagement

All staff are encouraged to take an active role in volunteering in the community. MOJ works with voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations to deliver a range of services, particularly within offender management and increasingly through ‘payment by results’. This is an example of the Government working in partnership with the third sector to achieve common goals and outcomes for the benefit of communities.

MOJ delivers a range of training and development opportunities for staff in partnership with organisations such as the Prince’s Trust and National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).

MOJ is also committed to supporting the government’s Giving White Paper which requires departments to:

  • help make giving time and money to the third sector as easy and compelling as possible.
  • give better support to organisations that provide and manage opportunities to give.

MOJ is committed to recognising the equality and diversity of its people and ensuring that staff are treated fairly and with respect without any discrimination; and has a wide range of number of equality and diversity networks in prisons and probation establishments.

Increasing social inclusion and enabling social mobility is a priority for MOJ. MOJ’s Schools Outreach Programme involves volunteers working with pupils in schools who are from less advantaged backgrounds. The Programme was developed in November 2016 to increase awareness, build confidence and enhance the career aspirations of young people from a range of backgrounds as they transition from school to employment.

MOJ Schools Outreach Programme won the Championing Social Mobility Award at the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Awards in October 2017.

Heritage and Historic buildings

MOJ manages a diverse range of heritage and historic estate including courts, prisons, probation facilities and heritage estate on behalf of the Home Office. It has over 400 historic properties of which there are 335 buildings of historic interest on 148 sites. These include courthouses, churches, moats, towers, bridges, prisons, mansions, cottages, workshops, ancient monuments, and WWII war memorials.

The oldest buildings are former houses or other buildings attached to modern courts or prisons, e.g. the houses fronting Kings Lynn Crown court and the medieval barns at HMP Prescoed and HMP Durham. The oldest purpose designed justice building still in use is Derby Magistrates’ court of 1659, which has a modern court building wrapping around it.

Among our heritage sites are:

  • The ‘Usk Roman Site’, an open area around HM Usk
  • The Victorian Fortress at HMP Rochester
  • The Grade II Octagonal central office building at HMP Brixton
  • The RAF Coltishall, monument located within the former World War II airfield at HMP Bure
  • The Prison Chapel, HMP Durham is a Grade II site
  • HMP Lancaster, Royal Courts of Justice and the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey are all listed as Grade I sites
  • Parts of the Prison Service College, Newbold Revel Rugby, including its H shaped plan, and gate are Grade II

Several other sites, including houses, forecourt walls, statues, a garden temple, and a water tower are included in the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England are Grade II listed.

It can sometimes be difficult to incorporate sustainability measures when making significant alterations to heritage estate due to the kind of materials and construction required and some planning restrictions. We aim to ensure that adequate standards of care are maintained by:

  • Regular engagement with Heritage England and development of best practice in refurbishing heritage estate
  • Regular surveys of the heritage estate from which we can identify opportunities for sustainable development
  • Quinquennial Inspection are carried out to all historic properties to a standard format to:
    • Understand the general condition of the fabric.
    • Highlight areas of maintenance to be prioritise if there are any building at risk.
    • Recommendations for further detailed investigation.
    • Review repair or maintenance works previously carried out.

Sustainable construction

Sustainable construction is about being more resource efficient and reducing whole life costs, such as by:

  • Using low environmental impact products and materials;
  • Managing and reducing waste through effective design and construction;
  • Providing resilience and flexibility in design, construction and operation.

MOJ policy requires that we use the Government Buying Standards (GBS) for New Build, Construction Projects and Refurbishment, to ensure that each project incorporates sustainable construction throughout the project lifecycle.

MOJ uses the application of the Building Research Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) to assist in the creation of a fit-for purpose, less costly and more sustainable estate.

Sustainable procurement

MOJ’s Sustainable Procurement policy is to ensure the incorporation of sustainability into all procurement activities to achieve long-term value for money. Associated programmes include:

  • embedding specific sustainability clauses into all future estate contracts
  • a whole life costs policy (i.e. production, in-use and disposal)
  • ensuring procurement staff receive appropriate sustainability training

We comply with relevant Government Buying Standards when purchasing goods and services.

Sustainable development goals

MOJ’s primary contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals is the implementation of Goal 16 i.e. the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels. MOJ will also contribute as relevant to the implementation of the wider set of goals.

Published 26 March 2018
Last updated 15 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. Climate Change Adaptation Strategy published.

  2. Sustainable procurement policy published.

  3. Water strategy published.

  4. Biennial ecology update 2016 to 2018 published.

  5. First published.