'Teamwork helped the MoJ deliver what might have seemed impossible': Antonia Romeo reflects on 2023

The MoJ perm sec looks back on year where "impossible was nothing", with achievements such as preparing a court to support a deaf juror – a historic first

By CSW staff

15 Dec 2023


Tell us three words that sum up your 2023...   

Impossible is nothing (with thanks to Adidas...) 

…And why you chose those words 

The Ministry of Justice is an extraordinary organisation full of brilliant people. We're delivering the largest prison build programme since the Victorian era - but the department isn’t just about bricks and mortar. At its heart, justice is about people. So I’m also proud of those achievements which have made a real difference to people's lives – for example, this year saw a historic first as MoJ colleagues supported the first jury with a deaf juror aided by interpreters. And by investing in in-cell technology, we are giving prisoners the tools they need to learn new skills and take control of their own admin, breaking a cycle of what one prisoner described as a “learned helplessness”. Alongside this, we are using data more effectively than ever before through tools like Splink – the world’s leading data linkage tool developed right here in the MoJ. And we continue to develop productive partnerships with people like Fred Sirieix, who has launched his new training restaurant in HMP Lincoln to help us reduce reoffending. And this, and a huge number of other things, has been achieved working as a team: across policy, operations, communications, legal, digital and corporate services – I can’t think of one major deliverable where the investment we’ve made in collaboration and joint working hasn’t paid off. And it's this teamwork that has helped the department deliver things which individually might have seemed impossible. 

What are your organisational and personal priorities for 2024? 

The organisational story of the last two-and-a-half years has been of service delivery transformation. We’ve been re-focusing and capability-building around three areas: digital, data, and delivery. We're already realising some of this opportunity, whether through expanding the use of virtual court rooms, improving transparency of the system for victims through publication of our criminal justice system delivery data dashboards, or using data and insight better to model future prison demand.  We also have an ambitious legislative agenda at the MoJ. Crime and justice are a central focus of the government’s legislative programme, so progressing our bills in Parliament is a big priority for us in 2024. 

My personal priorities will continue to be attracting and retaining top talent in the department so we can continue to deliver for HMG: recognising great work right across the department; providing everyone with meaningful career opportunities; and further improving our working environment to maintain a motivating workplace culture conducive to top performance. 

What’s your favourite festive treat, and what makes you say: ‘Bah, humbug’?   

My favourite festive treats are Quality Street and Trivial Pursuit on Christmas Day. And nothing about the festive period makes me go bah, humbug! Sprouts, Christmas jumpers, carols – what’s not to love? 

This is part of CSW's annual perm secs roundup. Read all the entries to the 2023 roundup here

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