The Department of Justice was established in April 2010, following the devolution of justice powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Programme for Government/Outcomes Delivery Plan
While it will be for an incoming Executive to set out its priorities, the former Executive had agreed to develop a Programme for Government (PfG) focused on achieving outcomes of societal wellbeing.
The draft Programme for Government (PfG) framework is used as the basis for the Outcomes Delivery Plan (ODP) which is in place until ministers return to office and the Executive is restored.
The Programme for Government/Outcomes Delivery Plan has adopted the Outcomes Based Accountability model and the Department of Justice has been tasked with leading PfG Outcome 7:
“We have a safe community where we respect the law, and each other”.
DOJ’s objectives are centred around Problem-Solving Justice. Problem Solving Justice gives us scope to drive forward new and more imaginative strategies, based on addressing the underlying causes of offending behaviour. Early intervention can help both the individual, and benefit wider society, and this is borne out by some of the positive work currently being taken forward by this Department.
Organisation and structure
The Department has a range of powers relating to devolved policing and justice functions, set out in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Devolution of Policing and Justice Functions) Order 2010.
It is responsible for the resourcing, legislative and policy framework of the justice system.
It is headed by a Permanent Secretary and has four Directorates - Access to Justice, Safer Communities, Justice Delivery and Reducing Offending to deliver on these priorities.
The Department has five Agencies:
Northern Ireland Prison Service: The Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) is an executive agency of the Department of Justice responsible for providing prison services in Northern Ireland. By working with prisoners and stakeholder organisations it also aims to reduce levels of re-offending.
Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service: The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service (NICTS) is an executive agency of the Department of Justice. It provides administrative support to the Northern Ireland courts and tribunals, and to the Judiciary; enforces civil court judgments through the Enforcement of Judgements Office and sponsors the work of the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission.
Forensic Science Agency: The Forensic Science Agency (FSNI) is an executive agency of the Department of Justice responsible for the provision of effective scientific advice and support to enhance the delivery of justice.
Youth Justice Agency: The Youth Justice Agency (YJA) is an executive agency of the Department of Justice responsible for preventing offending by children and young people through delivery of a range of community based, court ordered and diversionary interventions, youth conferencing and the provision of custody where necessary.
Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland: The Legal Services Agency Northern Ireland has been established under the Legal Aid and Coroners’ Courts Act (NI) 2014 to administer the provision of publicly-funded legal aid. This is an important contributor to the delivery of access to justice which is a fundamental feature of a democratic society committed to the fair and equal treatment of all its citizens.
The Department also sponsors a number of Non-Departmental Public Bodies/bodies affiliated with policing and justice.
On the 28 February 2019 the Secretary of State announced the 2019-20 resource and capital budget allocations for Northern Ireland departments.
The DOJ’s opening non-ring fenced resource DEL and capital DEL budgets for 2019-20 are £1,077.4m and £76.2m respectively. These figures include additional funding for pensions, EU Exit, and security funding for the PSNI (part of the Fresh Start Agreement).
Financial reports produced by the Department can be found on the following page