Recommendations made to further improve CRJI governance, oversight and understanding of its work

An independent review of the operation and management of Community Restorative Justice Ireland (CRJI) has made recommendations to improve oversight, corporate governance, record keeping and communication with partner organisations from the criminal justice system.
CJI Chief Inspector Jacqui Durkin said the review was carried out at the request of the former Minister of Justice, Naomi Long MLA, after concerns were raised about financial irregularities, staffing issues and the management and operation of CRJI that were negatively impacting on public confidence.

“During this review Inspectors sought to determine to what extent CRJI was complying with the Protocol for Community Based Restorative Justice Schemes published by the Northern Ireland Office in 2007, as many of the organisations providing funding to CRJI took assurance from its accreditation under the Protocol,” said Ms Durkin.
Inspectors  found CRJI had taken steps to address failings in its accounting practices and had overhauled its human resource and governance policies prior to the commencement of the review.
“The work already undertaken by CRJI is positive and we acknowledge the progress the organisation has already made, but more remains to be done,” she said.
CJI Deputy Chief Inspector James Corrigan said Inspectors found the working relationship between CRJI and the Department of Justice (DoJ) was not effective with only limited engagement taking place. Inspectors have recommended this be addressed.

The review also identified that while positive working relationships existed between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and CRJI, there was a lack of clarity on that relationship resulting in differential arrangements in different communities while some Police Officers were reluctant to engage because they were unclear what their remit was concerning their partnership.
Inspectors have recommended that a formal document outlining the nature of the relationship and their respective remits should be developed along with induction training for Police Officers new to community policing roles to explain the ethos of community-based restorative justice. 
Communication between CRJI and the Probation Board for Northern Ireland also requires improvement.
“While Inspectors found CRJI and its accredited schemes to be mostly compliant with the 2007 Protocol and we were assured that the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland and the Police Service could make referrals to the schemes in confidence, however we found only four referrals had been made to CRJI in the 13 years since their accreditation,” said Mr Corrigan. 
As a result of the review Mr Corrigan said two strategic and six operational recommendations for improvement have been made.