Cross Agency Collaboration in the Criminal Justice System

This programme was developed to address critical strategic challenges in the Criminal Justice Sector in Ireland so as to enhance sectoral leadership and public value. A cross agency collaborative learning and implementation methodology was used. High profile reviews of deep seated cultural and procedural challenges have inspired this programme. The IPA and agencies across the criminal justice system have taken an innovative approach to collaboration, learning and implementation. .

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

The need to find new ways of working across the criminal justice sector in Ireland became more urgent following a number of high profile reviews, which clearly articulated systemic and deep-seated cultural issues and challenges

It was recognised that a key strategic change and leadership challenge in enabling senior leaders to park organisational allegiances would be to build trust with partners in other agencies and to work collaboratively to resolve common, strategic problems. By doing so they strengthen their chance to find more sustainable, innovative, ground breaking ways to improve service quality, efficiencies, outcomes and critical to the criminal justice sector, to, restore public confidence and trust in the criminal justice system.

What did we do?
In a three-way collaborative design process, the Strategic Committee of the Criminal Justice Sector, the Department of Justice and Equality and the Institute of Public Administration developed a programme of multiple interventions and supports to aid change at the collective and sectoral level. This enabled change and development at the individual and organisational level

We developed a process to bring together senior leaders across all agencies in the criminal justice system to resolve common, strategic problems.

Participants worked in cross agency groups to identify through an evidenced based approach, new ways of thinking about a number of strategic challenges the sector faced and to identify new ways of working.

The mix of interventions were designed:
• Challenge established patterns of behaviour, thinking and working by incorporating a range of fresh perspectives.
• Build understanding, trust and thus relationships and a partnership approach across the agencies of the sector, essential in collaborative working.
• Provision of a process of problem solving involving all agencies in the sector to review key strategic issues and dialogue about the various interpretations of the problems and the best solution for a cohesive, systemic, sectoral resolution.
• Provision of an avenue for unifying the diverse participants around a common purpose- an element critical to effective collaboration.

• Extensive involvement and support provided by the strategic committee for the sector and project sponsors ensured accountability and a systemic approach.
• Success in implementation was enhanced through the involvement of citizen perspective in planning. Key stakeholders were involved using an evidenced based approach and holistic thinking and planning.
• There was a focus on building relationships across the groups to enhance understanding and trust and group learning. This was complemented by a focus on individual leadership development. All participants received a thorough 360-degree leadership diagnostic and individual and group coaching.
• Conviction and confidence in own leadership thought and practice was developed to ensure system benefits from wider range of voices, perspectives and commitment in delivering fundamental change and in thinking regarding the delivering of better services, outcomes and public value.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

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Year: 2017
Level of government: National/Federal government


  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

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