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Cosgrove launches Justice Sector Info Strategy

Hon Clayton Cosgrove
MP for Waimakariri
Minister for Building Issues
Minister of Statistics
Associate Minister of Finance
Associate Minister of Justice
Associate Minister of Immigration

Embargoed until 6pm Monday 17 July 2006 Speech

Cosgrove launches Justice Sector Information Strategy 2006-2011

Venue: The Grand Hall, Parliament Buildings, Wellington
Time: 6pm – 7pm, Monday 17 July 2006


Good Evening. It is my great pleasure to welcome you all here tonight.

In particular I wish to acknowledge my justice sector Ministerial and Cabinet colleagues - the Hon. Annette King, Minister of Police, the Hon Damien O'Connor, Minister of Corrections, and the Hon. David Benson-Pope, Minister of Social Development.

I would also like to acknowledge Belinda Clark, the Secretary of Justice, the large number of justice chief executives, members of the judiciary and senior representatives from a range of government departments and ministries, crown entities and central agencies.

And I am particularly pleased to see here a range of representatives from community and other non-government organisations including the Community Law Centres, the Royal Federation of Justices' Associations, and the New Zealand Law Society.

It is relatively rare that representatives from such a broad spectrum of the justice sector get the opportunity to gather like this together, and I extend a warm welcome to you all.

One of my areas of responsibility as Associate Minister of Justice is in respect to information and technology management in the justice sector.

Tonight's launch of the Justice Sector Information Strategy for 2006-2011 marks another important milestone for the justice sector. This is the 3rd such information strategy, and next month marks the 10th year anniversary since the first strategy was launched in 1996.

The past decade has seen major improvements in the way information is managed and shared in the justice sector. We have moved from the Law Enforcement System (LES) - or the Wanganui Computer as it is more commonly known - that was established in 1976, to a modern information and communications technology environment.

The new environment includes decentralised operational systems that are specific to the core business of each justice sector agency, and a shared secure electronic network between these systems. This has enabled the continued integration of justice sector operations, improved efficiencies and laid the groundwork to support future strategic planning.

Other achievements of the last decade include:

- Establishment of a central electronic database of information to support justice sector research, and an ongoing programme to add new datasets

- Improved access to criminal justice information

- Development of common standards and protocols for sharing and integrating justice sector data and information, and their alignment with e-Government standards

- The launch of the Justice Workspace intranet that enables staff from multiple agencies to work together

- Implementation of standardised and secure electronic data exchange

In short, the first two information strategies have enabled a core group of agencies including the Ministry of Justice, the New Zealand Police, the Department of Corrections and Land Transport New Zealand, to collaboratively lay the foundations for a world-class information base.

As the video I am about to show explains, the justice sector is heavily reliant on the collection and exchange of accurate, relevant and timely information. Nearly all the people working in the sector today use a range of technology systems, including the police, courts staff, judges, youth workers, Justices of the Peace, corrections officers, and lawyers.

Today we routinely share information in the justice sector across a secure virtual network of seven operational systems;

- The National Intelligence Application and the Police Infringements Processing System, at New Zealand Police

- The Case Management and COLLECT systems at the Ministry of Justice

- The Integrated Offender Management System at the Department of Corrections

- The Drivers License Register and the Motor Vehicle Register at Land Transport New Zealand

This sharing of information across the seven operational systems is estimated to support around 12 million transactions a year. That's a lot of information sharing!

Yet, there are plenty of opportunities for us yet to take up. The Justice Information Strategy 2006 -2011 provides the framework for continuous improvement in our information environment over the next five years. It includes:

- Ongoing efforts to improve the quality and integrity of data. For example, the recent establishment of an electronic database of more than 300,000 palm prints collected at crime scenes, and advances in forensics technology, have helped police resolve around 2000 cold cases in the past year.

- Managing and updating the standards and protocols for justice sector information exchange. That includes being responsive to new technologies that could bring benefits, as well as ensuring changes by one agency do not impact negatively on the information exchange network. For example, from next year local authorities will file infringements electronically into the Courts for enforcement and collection. This will reduce paperwork and create a more streamlined process.

- Significant gains have already been made in sharing operational data, but there are significant opportunities for inter-agency collaboration in research, policy development and strategic decision-making.

- Identify opportunities to extend best practice across agencies. For example, does the Department of Correction's trial cell phone blocking system have application for other justice agencies?

- Improved information and service provision to communities. In particular the public wants better access to information on individuals' rights and responsibilities under the law. For example, Land Transport New Zealand has developed an e-Commerce service centre for online vehicle registration and change of ownership. Many justice agencies are also investigating ways to improve service delivery through the Internet.

- Broadening the scope of the information available and extending the information network to other relevant agencies. For example, we see Child Youth and Family services under the umbrella of the Ministry of Social Development, and the Legal Services Agency playing a more significant role under the 3rd strategy.

The development of this strategy document has been a significant undertaking by the Ministry of Justice and justice sector agencies. I am told that well over 100 individuals from across the sector and other organisations have had some degree of input since this project commenced almost a year ago.

The Justice Sector Information Strategy 2006 – 2011 is an example of the justice sector's proud tradition of collaboration and working together toward a common outcome. I am pleased to see a continuation of that commitment to working collectively in this strategy.

In summary, the foundation has been laid. The next step is clear. The new strategy gives a common understanding of what must next be achieved. These improvements to our information base will ultimately enhance service delivery to the communities we serve. Because that is where the buck stops.

This Labour-led government's priorities for the next decade are progressing New Zealand's economic transformation to a high income, innovative and knowledge-based market economy, ensuring that all families, young and old, have the support and choices to reach their full potential, and enhancing our sense of national identity.

Underpinning these priorities is the recognised need for safe communities, as a direct influence on how we live and our quality of life. Justice agencies need to operate effectively so people are assured their safety expectations are met. Safe communities need to be supported by a justice system that is fair, credible and effective. In short, high quality justice information is vital to all New Zealanders.

I am now going to play a short presentation that highlights the reasons why we need a Justice Sector Information Strategy.

As you have seen, the video highlights the very real impact technology has on the day-to-day work of the justice sector, and the many vital communication links between sector agencies.

When I assumed this portfolio, officials briefed me on the strategy and took me on a visit to the Police Station and Courthouse in Upper Hutt. During this visit I saw the three main computer systems in use and I was very impressed with them.
Having access to the right information and analytical tools translates to smarter use of information, improved data quality for intelligence, investigation and deployment, less paperwork, tighter information security, and a better service for communities, as well as improved forward planning.

I would like to congratulate Justice Sector Chief Executives and the many staff and technical experts who have been involved in the development of this strategy. I would also like to acknowledge the valuable contribution made by the wide range of stakeholders and agencies within, and related to, the justice sector.

We have a world-class information base for the justice sector, and a strong sense of commitment and ownership about moving to the next phase. As the responsible Minister, I look forward to seeing the work that this strategy will give rise to.

It is my pleasure now to formally launch the Justice Sector Information Strategy 2006- 2011.

ENDS

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