Guidance

Research within MOJ’s agencies and arm's length bodies

Ministry of Justice's (MOJ) agencies and arm's length bodies research and analysis.

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is responsible for the administration of criminal, civil and family courts and tribunals in England and Wales. We are also responsible for non-devolved tribunals in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

HMCTS is in the process of transforming the way in which justice is delivered. Through our reform programme we’re modernising and upgrading our justice system so that it works even better for everyone.

Research is central to creating such a system. We employ a multi-disciplinary approach to research which helps us understand more about those that use our services, how they experience justice and what they need from a reformed system:

  • Operational Research – uses various analytical and modelling techniques to understand how changes in the justice system may impact on those that use it
  • Social Research – uses both qualitative and quantitative approaches to measure, describe and explain who uses the justice system and evaluate how changes may impact on how they use it
  • User Research – uses qualitative methods (including interviews, observation and usability testing) to understand how people interact with the system and their preferences for doing so
  • Behavioural Insights – combines aspects of cognitive science, psychology and other social sciences to understand and predict how users interact with the justice system

View an example of a recently published research project.

Email us if you would like to know more about research in HMCTS, the Insight and User Research Division, or wish to discuss research proposals and data.

Courts research at HMCTS

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) inspects all prisons in England and Wales as well as other forms of detention including immigration detention and court custody facilities. Inspections of police custody facilities are carried out jointly with HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and inspections of Secure Training Centres with Ofsted.

Research to support the Inspectorate’s work programme includes conducting detainee surveys (around 50 per year) and analysis of custody records, providing essential evidence for inspections. Further survey analysis may also be done to support submissions to select committees and consultations.

Visit the HMI Prisons website for more information.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMI Probation) provides independent assurance on the quality of probation and youth offending services.

Research conducted within the Inspectorate includes:

  • reviewing and contributing to the policy and operational evidence-base for probation and youth offending services
  • ensuring that HMI Probation’s inspection standards and organisational positions are evidence-based
  • providing technical advice so that HMI Probation’s inspections are as robust and impactful as possible

The Inspectorate publishes research and analysis bulletins aimed at all those with an interest in the quality of probation and youth offending services, presenting key findings to assist with informed debate and help drive improvement where it is required.

Visit the HMI Probation website for more information.

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) is committed to evidence-based practice informed by high-quality social research and statistical analysis.

We want our decisions to be based on good quality data and the best evidence on what works. We aim to contribute to the wider debate on effective custody, care and supervision of the people in our prisons, on probation or in youth custody.

In addition to the analytical and research support provided by MOJ, we undertake research relating to understanding effective practice. Our researchers also provide consultancy on evidence-based practice and produce a series of evidence summaries for colleagues relating to effective practice in prison and probation.

Our qualified psychologists (and those working toward registration) provide capability across England and Wales to undertake local research projects which are typically published in professional journals. Other professions within HMPPS will also have the skills to undertake quality research and all staff are encouraged to pursue their professional development which for some will entail further study incorporating practical research.

Prisons research at HMPPS

The Office of the Victims’ Commissioner

The role of the Victims’ Commissioner is to promote the interests of victims and witnesses, encourage good practice in their treatment, and regularly review the Code of Practice for Victims which sets out the services victims can expect to receive.

Researchers in the Office of the Victims Commissioner (OVC) conduct a series of reviews and reports into services that criminal justice agencies provide to victims to secure positive change for those affected by crime. For the reviews, research is carried out with all the criminal justice agencies listed in the Victims’ Code of Practice but most crucially OVC engages with victims in the research, to understand their experience of the service they receive. This allows us to make recommendations for improvements to the system to further support victims of crime with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Read past reviews on the Victim’s Commissioner website.

The Prison and Probation Ombudsman

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) is appointed by and reports directly to the Secretary of State for Justice. The Ombudsman’s office is wholly independent of the services in our remit. We are also operationally independent of, but sponsored by, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).

PPO has 3 main investigative duties:

  • complaints made by prisoners, young people in detention, offenders under probation supervision and immigration detainees
  • deaths of prisoners, young people in detention, approved premises’ residents and immigration detainees due to any cause
  • using PPO’s discretionary powers, the investigation of deaths of recently released prisoners or detainees

Our analytical work includes collective analysis of PPO investigation evidence. This work has enabled PPO to contribute to the conversation on a wide range of issues affecting the services in our remit, providing evidence-based learning that aims to support change in the organisations we investigate.

View our library of bulletins and thematic reports.

The Sentencing Council

The Sentencing Council for England and Wales is an independent, non-departmental body of the Ministry of Justice. It was set up under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 to promote greater transparency and consistency in sentencing, whilst maintaining the independence of the judiciary.

The aims of the Council are to:

  • promote a clear, fair and consistent approach to sentencing
  • produce analysis and research on sentencing
  • work to improve public confidence in sentencing

To meet these aims, the Council is responsible for issuing and monitoring guidelines on sentencing that courts must follow unless it is in the interests of justice not to do so. Statisticians and researchers work very closely with policy colleagues on the development and evaluation of guidelines. Our key responsibilities are to collect and collate the evidence to inform guideline development, produce resource assessments for guidelines, and assess their impact and implementation.

Analytical work includes setting up data collection exercises in the courts in order to capture detailed, quantitative data on sentencing behaviour, and conducting social research to gather the views of judges and magistrates, in particular, and ensure these are reflected in new guideline development.

Further information and publications are available on the Sentencing Council website.

Youth Justice Board

The Youth Justice Board (YJB) is a non-departmental public body responsible for overseeing the youth justice system. We work with our partners to prevent offending and reoffending by under-18s and achieve wider positive outcomes for children, and their communities. YJB’s strategic direction is set by our Board. YJB’s Strategic Plan 2018 to 2021 outlines how it will support the youth justice system to continue to work effectively with children who have offended or at risk of offending.

YJB’s researchers contribute to our functions by commissioning research, obtaining and publishing information (such as guidance and support to YJB colleagues and the sector), and identifying and promoting good practice. All of our work is published on the Youth Justice Resource Hub. Our main research studies follow government social research processes and are published on GOV.UK.

Research at MOJ

Published 8 January 2019