Communications & Engagement Strategy

Published date:

Communication is a powerful force for good in public service. When practiced effectively it can help improve, enhance and save lives.

The aim of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland is to ‘change lives for safer communities’. Effective communications can assist Probation achieve its aim by raising awareness of community safety issues; and
educating the public about how they can get support and assistance to deal with matters of safety.

Good communications also has an important role to play in building confidence in the work of Probation in Northern Ireland and the wider criminal justice system. Public confidence in the justice system is key to maintaining the legitimacy and the effective functioning of law and order: People with low confidence in the
system may be less willing to report crime; more reluctant to support the criminal justice system as witnesses or by serving as jurors; and more likely to offend.

We know from recent surveys that respondents believed ‘tougher sentences’ was one of the two most important things the criminal justice system could do to improve its public confidence rating. This demonstrates that there is still significant work for all justice organisations to do, including probation to build confidence in our role in rehabilitating and resettling people who have offended.

Increasingly evidence shows that communication must be built around the citizen, delivering information to them in the way that they want, not broadcast at them in the traditional model.3 This means that Communicators will increasingly require different and more technical skill sets. They need to be familiar with data analytics, content creation, behavioural change techniques and be adept at building alliances and partnerships.

Building confidence internally amongst staff is also important. The internal communications strand of this strategy focuses on engaging with staff, building mechanisms for two-way communication and providing accurate, timely information to staff.

This strategy aims to provide a framework that enables Probation to be agile in its approach to communications and meet new developments and changes in communications practice. In particular, there
is a focus on using digital communications to reach audiences. There is also a focus on building alliances and audiences in order to reach audiences and maximise our impact.