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Justice sector launches third information strategy

Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Associate Minister of Justice

Embargoed until 6pm, 17 July 2006 Media Statement

Justice sector launches third information strategy

New Zealanders will benefit from moves to raise the quality of this country's already world-class justice sector information base, with the launch of a new strategy for sharing and managing information, says the Associate Justice Minister, Clayton Cosgrove.

Mr Cosgrove officially launched the Justice Information Strategy 2006-2011 at a function at the Grand Hall in Parliament, at 6pm this evening. Around 70 senior justice representatives from across the sector attended the event.

It is the third information strategy developed by justice agencies, including the Ministry of Justice, the New Zealand Police and the Department of Corrections. The Ministry of Social Development, Land Transport New Zealand, the Legal Services Agency and the Crown Law Office have also been involved.

Mr Cosgrove outlined the major improvements in the management and exchange of justice sector information since the first strategy was launched in 1996.

"Today we have a central electronic database to support justice sector research, common standards and protocols for sharing data, improved access to criminal justice information and we routinely share information across a secure network of seven operation systems," he said. "Justice Sector Information Strategy 2006 – 2011 provides the framework to expand and improve the network over the next five years."

Key elements under the new strategy include;

- Ongoing improvements to data quality and integrity

- Being responsive to new emerging technologies that could bring benefits, as well as ensuring any agency's IT changes do not compromise the network

- Increased inter-agency collaboration in research, policy development and strategic decision making, as well as extending best practice

- Improved justice sector information and service provision to communities

- Extending the information network to other relevant agencies

Mr Cosgrove said justice agencies rely on accurate, relevant and timely information to function effectively and the new strategy provides the framework to facilitate that.

"Having the right information and analytical tools translates to smarter use of information, improved data quality for investigation and deployment, less paperwork, improved forward planning and a better service for our communities," he said. "It is very pleasing to see the justice sector's proud tradition of collaboration continuing."


Media Backgrounder

Why does New Zealand need Justice Sector Information Strategies?
These strategies provide a framework to manage and share relevant information and data between justice sector agencies from a collective perspective. Having access to the best information at the right time is vital for the effective functioning of many justice sector agencies. The strategies also ensure the technology investments made by individual agencies take into account the impact on other justice agencies.

How has the justice sector benefited from the first two strategies?
Over the past decade the sector has moved from the Law Enforcement System – or the Wanganui Computer as it was more commonly know – to a modern information and communications environment. It includes decentralised operational systems specific to each justice sector agency, and a shared secure electronic network. The justice sector has developed standards and protocols that govern information and its secure exchange across the New Zealand Police, the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Corrections and Land Transport New Zealand systems. Information is now routinely shared across seven operational systems, resulting in an estimated 12 million transactions a year.

What changes will the Justice Sector Information Strategy 2006-2011 bring?
The 3rd strategy ensures efficient and effective methods of sharing information are maintained, while also seeking to improve data quality and integrity. The new strategy also promotes opportunities for more inter-agency collaboration in research, policy making and strategic planning. There is a strengthened focus on improving information to support strategic decision-making, and on improving information and service provision to our communities.

Will the information exchange network be extended to other justice agencies under this new strategy?
While there has always been some involvement by these agencies, it is anticipated that Child Youth and Family services under the umbrella of the Ministry of Social Development, the Legal Services Agency and the Crown Law Office will play a more significant role under the 3rd strategy. This is in addition to the New Zealand Police, Ministry of Justice, Department of Corrections and Land Transport New Zealand.

Will communities gain better access to justice information under the new strategy?
Improving communities’ access to information and services is a key theme under the 3rd strategy. This is in response to calls for easier public access to information about peoples' rights and responsibilities under law, and on how the justice sector operates. A number of initiatives are being considered, including improving information availability via the Internet.

Will justice agencies have full access to each other's files?
No. The strategy does promote information sharing but there are clear rules around what data can be exchanged. Any information sharing that occurs is subject to the Privacy Act and other legislation, and is generally provided for the purposes of law enforcement. Any new proposals to share data would require legislative change.

Who will implement the new strategy?
Justice Sector Chief Executives will do so via the Justice Sector Information Committee comprising senior representatives from across the justice sector.


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