In May 2016, I published my first three-year inspection plan. My aim in looking ahead over three years rather than just one was to provide a better sense of the overall shape and range of the Inspectorate’s work programme, of how planned inspections fitted together thematically, and of when particular topics that were not in scope within the next 12 months would be examined.
An updated three-year inspection plan is now published. It includes a new Year 3 (2019/2020), which takes me up to the end of my term as Independent Chief Inspector. The plan for 2017/18 has been revised to include the topics I had intended to inspect in 2016/17 but was unable to resource, where these remain of interest. The new 2017/18 plan otherwise includes as much of what was originally planned and is still valid as I believe is now achievable.
As part of the planning process, between January and March 2017, I met with ministers, officials and stakeholders in order to understand their issues and priorities. I have tried to accommodate these where I can. However, the plan is not a collaboration or consensus, but represents my own assessment of where I believe inspection is both necessary and will add value.
I have had to make certain assumptions, the key ones being that the Inspectorate is fully-staffed throughout the period at the current headcount (30 full-time equivalents). I have also assumed that with a full staff complement, and through further process efficiencies, the Inspectorate will be able to cover more ground in 2017/18 than has been possible in 2016/17.
Flexibility remains important, not least because of the extent and pace of change in this area. The UK Borders Act 2007permits me to deviate from any published plan where necessary, but clearly this needs to be carefully managed to avoid unbalancing the overall programme. I will keep the three-year plan under review, but will make adjustments only where I have to. Where I make any in-year additions to the planned inspections, I will announce them on the website.