Report a positive step forward for justice in serious sexual offences cases

20 November 2018

DUP MLA Pam Cameron has welcomed the publication of draft recommendations in a preliminary review by Sir John Gillen of his review into arrangements to deliver justice in serious sexual offence cases.

Pam Cameron MLA

Deputy Chair of the Justice Committee

Pam Cameron

The South Antrim MLA said, “Sir John has carried out a highly detailed piece of work and the fact it includes over 200 recommendations is testament to the level of consideration given to all the issues.

It is particularly positive that Sir John spent a great deal of time with both complainants and those who have been accused but later cleared of a serious crime. They are the people who have felt the impact of the current system most directly and most personally. 

This process will have been successful if it can not only deal with problems that have occurred in the trial process, but if it is successful in tackling the huge under-reporting of crimes and the drop-out rate through the legal process.

Measures such as restricting public access to some serious trials appear to be unavoidable given problems we have already seen occur. This is also linked to the proposal for new laws around inappropriate use of social media. It is right that the media should be allowed access given that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. However, the inappropriate use of social media can not only heap extra anguish on a victim who has their anonymity removed, but can potentially undermine the entire trial.

It is notable that many of the recommendations do not require legislation. What we all should hope to see however is a conversation within society about how such crimes are viewed and many of the myths around rape which Sir John has rightly identified. Tackling those issues is something we all as a society need to engage in, but identifying and highlighting them within this review can only be a very positive step forward.”

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