The Criminal Justice System covers England and Wales and is one of the major public services in this country. Across the Criminal Justice System, agencies such as the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts, prisons and prohibition work together to deliver criminal justice.


The core agencies of the CJS are: the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts, the National Offender Management Service (which covers prisons and probation) and the Youth Justice Board (which oversees Youth Offending Teams). Some services and initiatives within the CJS are run by a number of voluntary groups such as Victim Support and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (Nacro).


Locally, 42 Local Criminal Justice Boards (LCJBs) co-ordinate activity and share responsibility for delivering criminal justice in their area. These boards bring together the chief officers of the CJS agencies to co-ordinate activity and share responsibility for delivering criminal justice at a local level.


Three departments are jointly responsible for the Criminal Justice System (CJS) and its agencies: the Ministry of Justice which oversees the magistrates’ courts, the Crown Court, the Appeals Courts, the Legal Services Commission and the National Offender Management Service (including prisons and probation); the Home Office which oversees the police and the Attorney General’s Office which oversees the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office and the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office.


The Ministry of Justice manages the justice process from end to end – from the moment a suspect has been charged, through the courts, to prison and probation if necessary. The ministry is responsible for criminal law and sentencing policy, for legal aid, reducing re-offending and for prisons and probation.


The Home Office protects the public from terror, crime and anti-social behaviour. It helps build the security, justice and respect that enable people to prosper in a free and tolerant society. The department is responsible for crime and crime reduction, policing, security and counter-terrorism.


The Attorney General, assisted by the Solicitor General, is the chief legal adviser to the Government. They are responsible for ensuring the rule of law is upheld.


The Attorney General also has certain public interest functions, for example, in taking action to appeal unduly lenient sentences, and bringing proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act.


The purpose of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) is to deliver justice for all, by convicting and punishing the guilty and helping them to stop offending, while protecting the innocent. It is responsible for detecting crime and bringing it to justice; and carrying out the orders of court, such as collecting fines, and supervising community and custodial punishment.


The key goals for the Criminal Justice System are:


      To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the CJS in bringing offences to justice.


      To increase public confidence in the fairness and effectiveness of the CJS.


      To increase victim satisfaction with the police, and victim and witness satisfaction with the CJS.


      To consistently collect, analyse and use good quality ethnicity data to identify and address race disproportionality in the CJS.


      To increase the recovery of criminal assets to ensure that crime does not pay.


The Criminal Justice Strategic Plan of 2008-2011 sets out how the agencies of the Criminal Justice System in England and Wales will work together to deliver a justice system which:


      Is effective in bringing offences to justice, especially serious offences.


      Engages the public and inspires confidence.


      Puts the needs of victims at its heart.


      Has simple and efficient processes.


Performance is measured against five indicators. In addition, Local Criminal Justice Boards (LCJBs) have an indicator measuring enforcement activity.


      Indicator 1: Bringing offences to justice


      Indicator 2: Increasing public confidence


      Indicator 3: Victim and Witness satisfaction


      Indicator 4: Addressing race disproportionality


      Indicator 5: Asset recovery


      Additional indicator: CJS Enforcement Programme



Courtesy of Lee Bryant, Director of Sixth Form, Anglo-European School, Ingatestone, Essex