Committee highlights opportunities for collaboration and innovation in the justice system

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 08 March 2016

Reference: JUS 04/15/16

The Committee for Justice today will debate its report on Justice in the 21st Century in the Assembly. The report was the outcome of a 12 month programme of engagement and collaboration with the criminal justice sector, including the judiciary, legal profession and voluntary and community organisations.

Speaking ahead of the debate in the Assembly, Committee Chairperson, Alastair Ross MLA said: "The Committee recognises that those working in the criminal justice system all wish to contribute to making the system in Northern Ireland quicker, fairer and more accessible, and ultimately one that aims to protect the public, support victims and rehabilitate offenders.

"The Committee's Justice Innovation Programme has included nine seminars delivered by local, national and international experts; a conference on 'Justice in the Digital Age'; keynote events with Lord Leveson and Lord Neuberger; along with visits to observe and discuss innovative criminal justice approaches in London, The Hague, New York and Glasgow."

Mr Ross continued: "The Committee is of the view that the underlying problems and root causes of offending behaviour in a range of areas such as substance misuse and addiction must be tackled if reoffending rates are to be addressed. To that end we are recommending that there is a commitment in the next Programme for Government to develop a pilot problem-solving court solution, like the ones we saw in New York and Glasgow. This should take account of the particular challenges within the criminal justice system here, such as alcohol or drug addiction, or mental health issues.

"Having witnessed first-hand the potential of Online Dispute Resolution for low level civil claims in the Netherlands, the Committee is also recommending that the next Programme for Government includes a commitment to develop a pilot online dispute resolution mechanism for low value civil claims, taking account of experiences in using this type of approach both internationally and in the private sector."
Other areas considered in the Committee's Report include responding to the challenges presented by an increasingly digital society; approaches to youth justice; and the problem of excessive penalisation.

Mr Ross concluded: "By working together with those who have the relevant expertise evidence based initiatives can be developed focusing on effective interventions. I strongly encourage the next Committee for Justice to build on the strong foundations which have been laid for collaboration between those working in the various aspects of the criminal justice system; to continue to provide opportunities for innovative thinking on creative approaches to the many challenges faced; and to ensure progress on the recommendations in this report."

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

The Committee Report on Justice in the 21st Century can be found on the Committee's Reports page.

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