Protection of Children Paramount says Committee

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 23 June 2011

Reference: JUS 01/11/12

The Minister for Justice, David Ford MLA, was before the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Justice today to answer some difficult questions on sexual offences cases [1] .

Committee Chairperson, Paul Givan MLA said: “The Committee was deeply concerned about the findings of the Review of Court Orders made insexual offences cases and wanted to question the Minister on it at the earliest opportunity.

“The Committee was particularly concerned at the findings in relation to Disqualification Orders which highlighted that in 57 per cent of cases, the Court did not make a Disqualification Order to stop sexual offenders working with children, and did not explain why an order had not been made. A Disqualification Order is designed to protect children, and should be awarded by the Court when it considers it likely that the offender would commit further crimes against children. Such an order prevents an offender from working with children, and from applying for jobs which involve working with children.

“While the Committee is aware the Court Service has referred these cases back to Judges for review, we are asking the Minister to ensure this happens immediately and that all necessary steps are taken to make sure no children are at risk while this review takes place. We also sought assurances that new procedures will be put in place to prevent this from happening again.”

“The Committee will be keeping a close eye on the issue and will be looking to the Minister for regular updates on the position.”

“The Committee also took the opportunity to receive an up-date on the legal aid dispute.”

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