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Nova Scotia Department of Justice Business Plan

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Nova Scotia Department of Justice Business Plan May 5, 2006 Table of Contents Message from the Minister and Deputy Minister 1. Mission Planning Context Strategic Goals Core Business
Nova Scotia Department of Justice Business Plan May 5, 2006 Table of Contents Message from the Minister and Deputy Minister 1. Mission Planning Context Strategic Goals Core Business Areas Priorities Budget Context Performance Measures...18 Appendix A Department of Justice Organizational Chart Message from the Minister and Deputy Minister It is our privilege to share the details of the Department of Justice s annual business plan. As the agency responsible for the administration of justice in the province, we have significant responsibility to Nova Scotians. We know a strong justice system runs relatively unnoticed and yet is essential to any wellfunctioning and democratic society. This business plan will help people understand our priorities and will also help track our progress towards meeting those priorities. For this year s planning cycle, we asked our management staff to consider priorities that will drive progress in four key result areas: addressing the social causes of crime, engaging staff, engaging partners, and improving business processes. You will read about the results of those efforts in the pages that follow. We also continued to meet with our justice partners to discuss issues of concern and to identify shared priorities for the coming year, which are also reflected in this year s plan. Our plan is ambitious and we are fortunate to have talented and very dedicated employees to carry out this work. We continue to count on the commitment of our employees, the support of our partners and the confidence of Nova Scotians. A sincere thanks to all who have helped develop this plan and a note of appreciation for your contributions to building a strong and effective justice system in Nova Scotia. Murray Scott, M.B. Minister Douglas J. Keefe, Q.C. Deputy Minister 1. Mission The Department of Justice is committed to the fair and effective administration of justice and to excellence in service to the people of Nova Scotia. 2. Planning Context The following provides a summary of significant initiatives and circumstances that have influenced planning for : Increasing crime and victimization rates Crime in Nova Scotia is garnering attention, in part by reported increases in rates of violent crime and violent victimization, as well as by the public perception of increasing risk of crime and victimization for the public. Statistics show that Nova Scotia s overall crime rate increased 4% between 1999 and This was driven mostly by increases in violent crime (up 15%) and other Criminal Code offences (up 10%). Property crime decreased 4% during the same time period. Between 2003 and 2004 (the last year for which statistics are available), there was a 2% increase in the overall crime rate in Nova Scotia. In that same year, property crime increased by 7%, violent crime decreased by 1%, and there was a 2% decrease in other Criminal Code offences, such as mischief and disturbing the peace. It is too early to tell whether the decline in violent crime and other Criminal Code offences is the beginning of a downward trend or an annual fluctuation. The figure on the right compares violent crime Violent crime rate per 100,000 population, 2004 rates in Canada and the Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform provinces in In that Crime Reporting Survey year, Nova Scotia ranked fourth highest nationally at 1,190 per 100,000, and highest in the Atlantic Provinces. As noted Page 1 above, Nova Scotia s violent crime rate declined by 1% over Within the violent crime category, the number of sexual assaults dropped by 9% and physical assaults by 2%. The decline in violent crime rates might have been larger had it not been for a 19% increase in the number of robberies in In 2003, robbery rates increased 11% over Thus, in a two-year period, robbery rates in the province increased by 30%. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Furthermore, according to the General Social 1 Survey (GSS), the violent victimization rate in Nova Scotia increased 65% between 1999 and In 2004, Nova Scotia noted the second highest violent victimization rate in the country (157 per 1,000 Canadians), and the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Halifax (229 per 1,000) had the highest violent victimization rate in the country. The national rate was 106 per 1,000. The GSS records respondents personal account of criminal victimization incidents, capturing information on crimes that have been reported to police, as well as those that have gone unreported. Impact of crime These increases are cause for concern, not only for the justice system but for all aspects of Nova Scotia society. There is the obvious concern for personal safety; fear alone, however low the risk, impairs our quality of life. But there is also an economic cost. Crime is a burden on the 2 economy that falls disproportionately on the poor. It is estimated that about $235 million is spent on the administration of justice (including policing, courts, legal aid, corrections and public prosecution) in Nova Scotia each year, and the cost is climbing. For example, in 2004, the total amount expended on policing in Canada totaled $8.8 billion dollars, a 3% increase over In Canada, there are two primary sources of data on the prevalence of crime: victimization surveys such as the GSS on victimization, and police-reported surveys such as the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey. These two surveys are very different in survey type, coverage, scope, and source of information. In particular, the GSS is a sample survey, which in 2004, sampled about 24,000 individuals aged 15 years and older. The sample is weighted so that responses represent the non-institutionalized Canadian population aged 15 years or over. In comparison, the aggregate UCR survey is a census of all incidents reported by police services across Canada. While the GSS captures information on 8 offences, the UCR survey collects data on over 100 categories of criminal offences. Perhaps the most striking difference between the two surveys is that the UCR survey records criminal incidents that are reported to the police and the GSS records respondents personal accounts of criminal victimization incidents. 2 The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics reported that approximately $235 million was spent on administering justice in Nova Scotia in 2002/2003 (the latest figures available). Since the figure was published, NS detected a possible under-reporting for that year, which would affect overall justice spending. Page 2 This represents the eighth consecutive annual increase and amounts to $276 per Canadian. In Nova Scotia, total expenditures on policing were $130.5 million, with a cost of $140 per Nova Scotian. Spending on justice does not include the cost of social and educational programs that indirectly attempt to prevent crime through human development. Nor does it include the hidden costs of economic loss and forgone benefits. Consider the small business that fails because its neighbourhood is perceived to be unsafe, or the countless decisions people make about whether to visit, go to university or relocate to Nova Scotia. Increasing focus on building safe communities Safer, stronger communities are our first priority. There are two ways to do this: through law enforcement and enhanced social development. Although we may debate the best route, in truth, we have to do both: respond to crime and the conditions that create crime. The department is responding to crime in close cooperation with our partners in the justice system. Recent initiatives include a $6 million investment over four years to improve practical, on-the-ground intelligence. This initiative is focusing on marijuana grow operations; illegal use of prescription drugs; smash and grab tobacco rings; the sale of illegal drugs; electronic fraud; murders linked to bike gangs; and border security. We have also introduced the Safer Communities and Neighborhoods Act, which will empower Nova Scotians to seek community safety orders to shut down criminal activities that adversely affect their neighbourhoods. Initiatives such as these and the new ones we are proposing in will see even closer cooperation between our justice partners and the larger social systems. Action to address youth crime The department is working to address youth crime with some existing and new initiatives. We are pursuing a four-pronged approach, which includes: (1) Legislative measures: we continue to push for changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act (Canada) to give our courts greater discretion to order out-of-control youth to be held in custody; (2) Enforcement: in partnership with law enforcement and the Public Prosecution Service, strengthen efforts to bring criminals to justice and to enforce court orders which release youth back to the community; (3) Offender supervision and support: update programs for youth in custody and under community supervision; consider extending restorative justice to 10 and 11 year olds through a Restorative Justice Program for Children under age 12 in conflict with the law; and explore a non-residential attendance centre for youth in the Halifax area; and (4) Crime prevention: overall strategy to prevent youth from engaging in criminal activity and to provide them with hope and opportunity. Page 3 Youth crime is also the subject of a public inquiry ordered by Government following the release of a 16-year-old youth from court two days before he stole a vehicle and crashed into a car killing Theresa McEvoy. The Department of Justice will lead Government s response to recommendations arising from that inquiry. Study to examine long case processing times Another area of concern is case processing time. We have among the longest adult court processing times in Canada. For example, in , mean elapsed times in adult courts were longest in Quebec (326 days), followed by Ontario (214 days) and Nova Scotia (213 days). Concerning youth court, Nova Scotia had the longest mean elapsed time at 175 days, followed by Manitoba (166 days) and Alberta (159 days). Looking at the Nova Scotia situation, it s important to take into account Crown or court cases referred to the Restorative Justice Program. In those cases, charges are subsequently withdrawn or dismissed once the youth has successfully completed the program, and this could partially explain why Nova Scotia appears to have longer case processing times. A study is currently underway to review workload volume and case complexity. New initiatives to improve offender supervision We have begun new initiatives to improve the supervision of offenders, including electronic monitoring, and partnerships with police and the Public Prosecution Service to improve surveillance and enforcement of conditional sentence violations. In Canada, the use of incarceration in adult court remains stable, while orders for probation and conditional sentences 3 have grown and fines have declined. In , prison was the most serious sentence handed down in 36% of adult court cases where there was a conviction. Probation was the most serious sentence ordered for 30% of convicted cases, followed by fines (26%). A conditional sentence, introduced in 1996 as a sentencing option, was the most severe sentence in 5% of convicted cases. Sentencing patterns vary across the country, with Nova Scotia (23%), New Brunswick (24%) and Saskatchewan (24%) reporting the lowest incarceration rates in Working in partnership Balancing enforcement enhancements with efforts to reduce the underlying causes of crime requires the participation of many partners. On this front, the departments of Justice and Community Services are working with their partners on a safer, stronger communities initiative, initially focusing on those areas experiencing high crime rates and significant socio-economic challenges. We are also developing a drug strategy with Nova Scotia Health Promotion and 3. Those convicted could face multiple sentencing options, i.e. prison followed by probation and a fine; these statistics report on the most severe and/or most serious sentence handed down. Page 4 Protection, and continue to address spousal/intimate partner violence with Community Services, Health, the Public Prosecution Service and community partners. At the national level, provincial and territorial ministers have been unanimous in expressing concern and demanding action on gun violence, organized crime and limiting the use of conditional sentences for serious and violent offences. In 2005, a unanimous resolution from provincial/territorial ministers also called for an immediate federal commitment to civil legal aid services and a return to cost sharing for criminal legal aid. Fair and timely access to justice is a fundamental principle that must be upheld through legal aid. Nova Scotia has a long-standing commitment to legal aid for our poorest citizens, with the department spending some $14 million each year to support public access to legal aid. Planning ahead to ensure policing needs are met Nova Scotia and other Canadian jurisdictions are working to prepare for the end of a 20-year contract with the RCMP for policing services. The current multi-million-dollar agreement expires in While that may seem like a long way off, we need to work now to identify and prepare for Nova Scotia s policing needs in 2012 and beyond. With respect to police workload, in 2003 (latest figures available), there were 50 criminal incidents for every police officer in Nova Scotia. This is higher than the national average of 43 criminal incidents per officer. Trends in the number of incidents per police officer generally follow the trends in crime rates. Police are also reporting increasing case complexity, with increasing amounts of time being spent on preparing for court rather than catching perpetrators. Moving forward with legislative initiatives We continue to work on legislative initiatives, including the new Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, and proposed legislation to address privacy concerns arising from a review of the ramifications of the U.S. Patriot Act. The new Correctional Services Act and Regulations will come into force on July 1, 2006, providing a modern framework for the delivery of correctional services. The Police Act and Regulations were proclaimed on January 1, 2006 and will require ongoing facilitation to continue enhancing policing governance in all communities across Nova Scotia. There are also increased demands for significant reform of the private security legislation in light of outdated legislation regulating the industry, expanding roles for private guards and investigators, the absence of standards, and uneven industry coverage. Human resource strategy Human resource initiatives have always been a critical aspect of annual business planning within the department. In this planning year, our management team was introduced to government s overall Corporate Human Resource Plan at a fall 2005 planning session, where links were made between corporate goals and departmental initiatives. The department s Human Resource unit also held a planning session with a view to developing a long-term strategic plan aligned with corporate efforts. Page 5 The priorities identified for the fiscal year that are linked to corporate human resource goals are: A comprehensive, sustainable Healthy Workplace Strategy for employees is underway at Justice, in support of being a safe and supportive workplace. The project is a collaboration between the department and the Public Service Commission, Nova Scotia Health Promotion and Protection, the Atlantic Health and Wellness Institute, Pfizer Canada Inc., AstraZeneca Canada Inc., and Sun Life Financial. In addition to health and wellness initiatives, the above-noted strategy will include training programs to meet operational and career development needs, helping the department make a difference through a skilled, committed and accountable public service. Occupational health and safety reviews are planned, with a particular focus on Correctional Services and the Provincial Firearms Office. Employee recognition initiatives and internal communications efforts, such as a redesign of the intranet site, have also been identified as priority areas for action, in keeping with corporate efforts to be a preferred employer. In support of diversity, we have developed an affirmative action plan. Efforts are underway to develop an internal tracking system to collect and analyze diversity data. The department also continues to implement an action plan in response to an Employment Systems Review of Correctional Services, which examined policies and practices in recruitment, hiring, selection, retention, career development, promotion, discipline and termination. We are also supporting French language training for employees, and a departmental representative participates on the Public Service Commission s Diversity Roundtable. On the learning front, the department s Justice Learning Centre continues to facilitate training for staff and justice partners. Domestic violence training continues to be a major focus. The learning centre is also developing a curriculum for bias-free policing. Various divisions have also identified specific human resources priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. For example, Legal Services is planning to initiate a mentoring program and training initiatives for its staff. Correctional Services is also introducing a mentoring program and a comprehensive menu of core training, including a frontline supervision course. Policing and Victim Services will be focusing on career development training for victim services staff. Page 6 In the upcoming year, efforts will be made to further develop this section of the business plan in keeping with guidelines issued by the Public Service Commission. This will include developing an overview of key HR demographics and context data, establishing specific objectives and actions associated with each of the corporate goals, and articulating outcomes. 3. Strategic Goals This section outlines the high level strategic context that frames our annual planning processes. Priorities and activities are designed to contribute to achieving the vision and strategic directions outlined below. Vision: Nova Scotia is a place where people and their rights are respected. Justice will provide leadership in partnership with others to build a province where: citizens trust the justice system people are and feel safe and secure disputes are effectively and sensitively resolved access to justice processes are timely and affordable communities actively participate in the justice system diversity is valued and respected Strategic directions: The following strategic directions are broad themes for change over the next three to five years, which are consistent with the mission and clearly tied to our vision. 1. A justice system that is properly administered and cost effective, with a focus on increasing transparency and accountability around decisions concerning the cost and effectiveness of the justice system; well-trained, well-motivated staff who are well deployed; mechanisms to achieve consensus and improve cooperation regarding common issues, strategies and measures; promoting more use of cost-effective vehicles, where appropriate; ensuring efficient operations; and providing cost-effective justice services. 2. There is public confidence in the justice system, with a focus on improving public perception of courts, corrections and policing; achieving satisfactory understanding regarding how the justice system works and how decisions affecting people are made; demonstrating that we prioritize and manage our resources well; simplifying, streamlining and integrating all justice processes, where appropriate (includes being effective through collaboration by having a justice system that is fully integrated with itself and with other social institutions); and improving ou
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