Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20-39)|
3 MARCH 2009
Q20 Mr Tyrie: Fine. Broadly speaking,
by how much has your budget risen since you were created, in nominal
Jonathan Slater: OCJR itself only
came into effect in 2004. Local Criminal Justice Boards came into
place in 2003
Q21 Mr Tyrie: This is why I asked
for the figure for 2003/2004, because I think that would be the
right starting point.
Jonathan Slater: Yes. I am sorry;
my point is that OCJR did not exist then, so the need for an agency
to bring together the different parts of the criminal justice
system in the way that I have been seeking to describe came into
Q22 Mr Tyrie: I am just at the early
stages of trying to establish what the rise in your budget has
been on a fair and comparable basis. Can you give me that?
Jonathan Slater: I will come back
to you in writing with more detail if I can, but my basic point
is that in 2003/2004 there was not an Office for Criminal Justice
Reform; it did not have a budget; it was set up from scratch in
Q23 Mr Tyrie: If I may say so, I
am a little surprised that you do not already know, broadly, what
these numbers are. Could you tell me roughly what front line services
the budget that you do have, which we are now agreed is £167
million, coversa rough idea of each item?
Jonathan Slater: The largest sum
that we spend from within that budget is a £30 million annual
grant to Victim Support, which they use to deliver front line
services to about one and a half million individual victims a
year. There are smaller sums, a further 2.5 million, to other
victims' groups for services to victims from within that figure
too. The next largest sum of money is on improving the quality
of IT across the piece, and everything that we do is designed
to feed into helping front line organisations to do their jobs
more effectively. Most of our money, unlike the funding to Victim
Support, is not designed to be delivery of services direct by
ourselves but to support front line agencies to do that better
themselves. In addition to Victim Support, we fund a witness intermediary
service, for example, much smaller scale funding, by which particularly
vulnerable witnesses get a direct service from intermediaries,
but most of our money, as I say, is spent on providing support
to agencies to deliver front line services themselves in a more
joined up way.
Q24 Mr Tyrie: We have only got as
far as £30 or £40 odd million out of the £167.
Jonathan Slater: Yes, I am more
than happy to talk you through the rest of the budget; I was just
saying that most of it is not spent on direct services.
Q25 Mr Tyrie: I just wanted to get
a rough feel. Obviously I recognise that you will not have exact
figures in your mind of where the £167 million is spent,
but the four or five main headings?
Jonathan Slater: Absolutely. I
will talk you through the rest of the budget then. About £20
million of the remainder is spent on improving IT services across
the system, about 11 million a year is spent on delivery of new
systems that we have put into place that are already now operating,
like secure emails between agencies; there is about 10 million
funding of the 42 Local Criminal Justice Boards at 150,000 each
to enable them to do their work together well; there is about
£7.5 million of compensation in respect of miscarriages of
justice, which is a discrete activity unlike the rest of our work
that OCJR does.
Q26 Chairman: You actually pay the
compensation when the compensation is agreed. It comes out of
Jonathan Slater: It just so happens
that it comes out of our budget. That is right, yes.
Q27 Mr Tyrie: So far we are up to
£80,000, roughly speaking, so we have got £80 million
Jonathan Slater: I mentioned the
15 million depreciation, on depreciating the value of the assets
that we have invested over the last five years. I started with
our resource expenditure. There is about £30 million worth
of capital to support the investment in new IT systems.
Q28 Mr Tyrie: Independently of the
£20 million that you mentioned earlier for IT?
Jonathan Slater: I was distinguishing,
perhaps unhelpfullyapologies if it was unhelpfulbetween
resource and capital costs. It is really needed to control both
separately, so those are mutually exclusive figures certainly.
We have a pay budget of about £15 million: we currently employ
about 260 staff in a variety of capacities, which I could talk
you through as you wish.
Q29 Mr Tyrie: We are getting a bit
closer to the number. How do you calculate the division of funding
between the local boards? That is the 10 million, I suppose, that
you have just mentioned to me.
Jonathan Slater: About 70% of
it is spent on a standard grant to each of the LCJBs for a core
support team, about four staff, who work with the individual members
of the Board to support them in the delivery of their task, remembering
that these board members have got full-time jobschief constables,
probation officers, and so onso a team of four or five
that work to them providing their secretariat, their plans, and
the rest of it. We have invested heavily over the last few years
in improved performance management systems for them so that they
can see very quickly, at the touch of a button, levels of crime,
offences brought to justice, levels of satisfaction in their area
and how it compares with othersso the bulk of the difference
between seven and ten million is spent on those services for themand
then, finally, we have been investing heavily in the last year
in improving the capability, the capacity of each Local Criminal
Justice Board to take on more responsibility.
Q30 Mr Tyrie: How do you decide how
much each gets?
Jonathan Slater: The bulk of their
funding is common, whatever the size. London gets it more than
others because it is so large, but the bulk of the funding is
common to whichever LCJB because the task is the same no matter
Q31 Mr Tyrie: How much thought are
you giving to the fact that the Ministry of Justice, who funds
you, are going to have to find huge efficiency savings in order
to make ends meet in the forthcoming financial years, in fact
Jonathan Slater: Plenty of thought,
in two ways. Firstly, of course, like any other part of the system,
we need to demonstrate that we can operate as efficiently as possible.
In fact, you might say the responsibility on the headquarters
to demonstrate efficiency should be greater in order to protect
funding to the front line, so our budget for next year has been
set at flat cashso no allowance for inflationminus
Q32 Mr Tyrie: You are offering cuts?
Jonathan Slater: We are offering,
yes, to do things for less money next year than this year. That
is one impact. The other impact is that it makes our work all
the more importantbecause our job is, as I said earlier,
to improve efficiency as well as effectivenessso we are
looking to divert the maximum funds available to support improvements
in the efficiency of the Ministry of Justice and other parts of
Q33 Mr Tyrie: In other words, you
are confident that you can carry on delivering the same service
for less money at this time of financial stringency?
Jonathan Slater: What we are doing,
in the light of the financial circumstances, is prioritising as
carefully as we possibly can, and so where there times of plenty
we would be investing more.
Q34 Mr Tyrie: Are you losing functions?
Jonathan Slater: No.
Mr Tyrie: Thank you, Chairman.
Q35 Alun Michael: You referred earlier
to alignment between different parts of the criminal justice system
and you have got the cross-CJS alignment project. What impact
do you think that is going to have on the Criminal Justice Service
agencies in terms of their capacity to cope with increasing demand,
particularly in relation to courts, prisons and probation?
Jonathan Slater: This is a piece
of work we have kicked off recently, precisely to make sure that
all appropriate steps have been taken, such that when some new
initiative is being envisaged or when there are some consequences
arising for the system from some external source, say the economy,
that careful thought is given to ensuring that there is an effective
alignment supply and demand across the whole of the system. There
are many competing pressures on it. One of our roles in the middle
of the system is to make sure that when something is being planned
the potential knock-on impacts on other bits of the system are
given full weight and consideration to ensure it can be implemented
Q36 Alun Michael: That is in response
to a change rather than pressure of demand, is it not, if there
is a new idea that has to be aligned. What about demand, which
is another external factor, which is what I actually asked about?
Jonathan Slater: Yes. What I was
hoping to convey was that we are interested in alignment of supply
and demand, either in circumstances where the Government itself
is considering an initiative or where, through some external reason,
there is an increase in demand. Absolutely.
Q37 Alun Michael: Can you give us
an idea about what actual movement of resources is likely to take
place, say, during the next 12 months?
Jonathan Slater: We are at an
early stage really in the work at the moment in which we are wanting
to make sure that proper planning takes place, that information
is shared between the agencies as well as possible, that everybody
is speaking with the same sort of definitions, the same sorts
of assumptions, that this is done as openly as possible, so that
when prioritisation takes place, as inevitably happens where there
is an initiative in respect of knife crime, or whatever it is,
that people are planning accordingly. I am not expecting this
to lead to significant transfers of resource between one department
Q38 Alun Michael: Can we put it to
practicalities then for a moment? We know that there is a lot
of pressure, despite the additional resources that the Lord Chancellor
told us about when he last gave evidence, for community sentences,
and yet we also know that there is a problem with the confidence
of the judges and their knowledge, or lack of knowledge, of community
sentencing. So we know that there is an area of difficulty there
in terms of aligning the Government's priorities with what actually
happens within the criminal justice system. What are you doing
Jonathan Slater: As you say, in
response to concerns being expressed about a year or so ago about
the resources available to magistrates for sufficient capacity
of community orders, discussions took place within the department
that had the responsibility for funding probationthe Ministry
of Justiceto make sure that there was sufficient provision
and additional provision was made.
Q39 Alun Michael: But that is not
a question of alignment, that is simply a question of an additional
pot of money?
Jonathan Slater: That is right.