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The Ministry of Justice has been a department of the government of the United Kingdom since 2007.

The Ministry is responsible for courts, prisons, and probation in England and Wales.

Further responsibilities include criminal justice policy, sentencing policy, and prevention of re-offending in England and Wales. The Ministry also handles relations with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments in all areas for which it is responsible in England and Wales.

The Ministry was created on 9 May 2007 by detaching parts of the Home Office and merging them with the Department for Constitutional Affairs (formerly known as the Lord Chancellor's Department).

The department is located in 102 Petty France (previously called 50 Queen Anne's Gate) in Westminster, London.





The ministry handles relations between the three devolved governments (the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government) and the UK government.

It administers some tribunals in the whole of the UK, and has various other functions, such as human rights and electoral reform, which also covers the whole of the UK.

England and Wales

The Ministry of Justice does not have responsibility for criminal justice, courts, prisons or probation in either Scotland or Northern Ireland, only in England and Wales.

In the jurisdiction of England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice is responsible for dealing with all suspected offenders from the time they are arrested, until convicted offenders are released from prison.[1]

The legal system in Scotland is independent from that of England and criminal justice, policing and prisons are the responsibility of the Scottish Government.

Although law in Northern Ireland is a matter 'reserved' to the UK Parliament, it is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice. The Northern Ireland Court Service is the Lord Chancellor's department in Northern Ireland[2]; the members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board are appointed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; and the Northern Ireland Prison Service is an executive agency of the Northern Ireland Office.

Crown dependencies

The Ministry of Justice has certain responsibilities in relation to the Crown dependencies:[3]

  • Acting as the main line of communication between Whitehall and the governments of the islands
  • Agreeing royal assent to legislation passed by the insular legislative assemblies
  • Extending UK legislation to the islands
  • Making Crown appointments within the islands

Core components

  • The National Offender Management Service: administration of correctional services in England and Wales through Her Majesty's Prison Service and the Probation Service, under the umbrella of the National Offender Management Service;
  • Youth Justice and sponsorship of the Youth Justice Board;
  • Sponsorship of the Parole Board, Her Majesty's Inspectorates of Prison and Probation, Independent Monitoring Boards and the Prison and Probation Ombudsmen;
  • Criminal, civil, family and administrative law: criminal law and sentencing policy, including sponsorship of the Legal Services Board, Civil Justice Council, Sentencing Guidelines Council and the Sentencing Advisory Panel, and the Law Commission;
  • The Office for Criminal Justice Reform: hosted by the Ministry of Justice but working trilaterally with the three criminal justice departments, the Ministry of Justice, Home Office and Attorney General’s Office;
  • Her Majesty's Courts Service: administration of the civil, family and criminal courts in England and Wales;
  • The Tribunals Service: administration of a large part of the UK tribunals system;
  • Legal Aid and the wider Community Legal Service through the Legal Services Commission;
  • Support for the judiciary: judicial appointments through the newly created Judicial Appointments Commission, the Judicial Office and Judicial Communications Office;
  • The Privy Council Secretariat and Office of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council;
  • Constitutional affairs: electoral reform and democratic engagement, civil and human rights, freedom of information, management of the UK's constitutional arrangements and relationships including with the devolved administrations and the Crown Dependencies;
  • Ministry of Justice corporate centre: focused corporate centre to shape overall strategy and drive performance and delivery.[4]


Lord Falconer of Thoroton, who was Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs until the ministry came into existence, became the first Secretary of State for Justice. He also retained the title and role of Lord Chancellor. Jack Straw took over this department on 28 June 2007.

Ministers of the Ministry of Justice as of 9 June 2009[5]

The first Permanent Under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of Justice was Alex Allan, now Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, who was succeeded by Suma Chakrabarti, the current incumbent.

Shadow Secretaries

The Conservative Party's Shadow Secretary of State is Dominic Grieve MP.[6] The Liberal Democrat spokesman is David Howarth MP.[7]


External links


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