A background to the Digest of Information on the Northern Ireland Criminal Justice System including the user testing that followed the halting of publication and past copies.
Formerly a compendium publication covering the entire criminal justice system in Northern Ireland was produced biannually. The aim of this publication - the Digest of Information on the Northern Ireland Criminal Justice System - was to present, in a user-friendly way, a comprehensive picture of key developments and statistics relating to crime and justice in Northern Ireland.
The Digest historically drew on information from a variety of statistical and administrative sources, including government departments, statutory agencies and non-statutory organisations.
This publication series, as a biannual compendium covering the entire criminal justice system (CJS) was labour-intensive. More crucially also, the information contained within it rapidly became out of date with the publication of calendar year information in the spring of each year and the publication of financial year information typically in the summer or autumn. As a result virtually as soon as each Digest was published (normally in April and October) the information would be superseded.
Outcome of user consultation
Publication of the series was halted temporarily in 2012 and this afforded the opportunity for a detailed review of user needs.
First a small-scale exercise was undertaken in May 2013 primarily with some external users to try to get a feel for their priorities/needs on the publication and how it was used by them. One of the common themes to come through from these consultations was the desirability of speedy access to up-to-date information, with an emphasis on easy navigability and summary headline information. This emphasis was mirrored in further findings with senior Departmental officials in a range of interviews undertaken in September 2013.
Taking on board the substantive findings of the previous reviews, an online survey was then undertaken using both Departmental and non-Departmental users in November/December 2013.
The full results of this survey (which had 64 respondents) are available in the attached document. In essence the survey strongly emphasised the importance of timeliness of the data (80% of respondents saying this was very important) and ease of access (59% saying this was very important). When asked if a new format for the Digest involving a much shorter Key Findings document with web-links to the original data sources would better suit user needs, 58% of respondents said it would (with a further 40% reporting either no difference or ‘don’t know’).
Change in format
Accordingly, it was decided to seek approval for change in format of the Digest to put in place a web-based procedure which would meet user needs more effectively.
The National Statistician was notified to this effect and responded in June 2014 raising no specific objections to the decision to no longer publish these Official Statistics. The cessation was also reported to the Committee for Official Statistics.
Web-links to the source statistical publications which mostly went to make up the contents of the Digest are now available on our website at the page Digest of Statistical Web-Links:
Past copies of the Digest
Previous copies of the Digest of Information on the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland may be accessed through the links below:
- Department of Justice Digest of Information on the NI Criminal Justice System - Spring 2012 (second edition)
- Department of Justice Digest of Information on the Northern Ireland Criminal Justice System: Autumn 2011
- Department of Justice Digest of Information on the Northern Ireland Criminal Justice System – Spring 2011
- Update to Department of Justice Digest of Information on the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland - Spring 2011
- Department of Justice Digest of Information on the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland - Autumn 2010
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