In August 2019, my Department implemented a significant Transformation Programme, most notably in response to the recommendations of the Effectiveness and Renewal Group which was established by Government in January 2018 to identify the changes necessary to enable the Department to meet the changed demands of the environment in which it now operates.
The aim of the Transformation Programme is to create a Department that is more agile, more evidence-based and more open, while remaining loyal to traditional civil service values of integrity, impartiality and professionalism. This new operating model has been implemented in the Department to create a better platform for the professional delivery of services.
My Department's work was previously structured by subject areas relating to different parts of the Justice and Equality sector. Cosc - The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence was an example of this. By contrast, the Department is now divided into two pillars- Criminal Justice and Civil Justice and Equality. Within these pillars, the Department is divided into structured into four functional areas: Policy development, Governance, Legislation, Operations & Service Delivery. Support is provided across the pillars by Corporate and Transparency.
In terms of the work previously carried out by Cosc, the reorganised Department model means that specialist teams will now focus on specific functions relating to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. The work that was carried out by Cosc will be distributed under the new model in the following way:
Policy Function (Community Safety) will take over many of the responsibilities Cosc previously held. This Division will be the contact point for NGOs for issues such as the monitoring and implementation of the second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. This Division will be engaged with the development of Policy to determine requirements and challenges facing the domestic, sexual and gender based violence sector.
Governance Function will be responsible for overseeing the actions of criminal justice agencies in implementing the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
Legislation Function will be responsible for actions such as any proposed amendments to the Domestic Violence Act 2018.
Operations and Service Delivery Function will make decisions on funding, through a centralised Funding Administration team, to support best practice and centralised oversight of NGO funding.
Transparency will be responsible for actions such as the national awareness raising campaign under the second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.
My Department has had a number of meetings with NGOs who work in the area, bilaterally and in larger groups, to discuss the Transformation programme. This has been done to ensure that they are appraised of the changes, personally are introduced to the new points of contact for individual functions and to ensure that a seamless customer service is provided.
The benefits of the new model include that the Department is in a better position to deliver on its strategic objectives. More clearly defined roles and responsibilities will mean improved accountability and services will be delivered in a better, streamlined way. Information will be shared with stakeholders and the public in a proactive way, through the dedicated Transparency function.
I am confident that with these changes, my Department has embarked on building a new and better model for the Civil Service and that the important issues within our responsibility, including in relation to tackling domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, will be handled in an even better way in future.