A Safer Northern Ireland

The transfer of justice powers from Westminster allows local elected representatives to shape our justice system to suit the Province’s specific requirements.

A Safer Northern Ireland

The DUP would seek to:

  • Require a comprehensive review of sentencing policy to ensure it is effective in deterring crime, protecting the public and cutting reoffending
  • Bring forward legislation to increase the maximum period of imprisonment for offences involving violence or neglect directed against the elderly or vulnerable
  • Seek to increase sentences for child sex offences, rape and sexual assault
  • Establish a Victims’ Charter placing victims at the heart of the justice process and ensuring proper communication and consultation from the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service with explanations for delays and failure to prosecute- reasons would have to be given for decisions to prosecute on lesser charges
  • Increase transparency including clear indications of timeframes for cases, likely costs of actions and piloting online or televised coverage of cases
  • Extend to Northern Ireland the Sarah’s Law provisions being practiced in England, allowing concerned parents to request whether individuals in contact with their child about whom they would have concerns, are on the Sex Offenders Register
  • Amend self-defence legislation so householders are given greater protection and can only be prosecuted for use of force against intruders which is found to be disproportionate
  • Produce a strategy to deal more effectively with white collar crime, ensuring that those who misappropriate or embezzle funds are properly pursued
  • Implement legal aid reforms
  • Introduce a website based on the CrimeMapper model across the water, so the public have accurate information about the level of crime in their neighbourhood
  • Promote a ‘CashBack for Communities’ scheme based on the Scottish programme of diversionary activities for young people using funds recovered from criminals
  • Support use of wire tap evidence in court
  • Rigorously enforce legislation against begging
  • Encourage mediation and alternative dispute resolution
  • Support a three-month cooling off period to encourage reconciliation in divorce proceedings
  • Promote mediation for couples who cannot agree how to divide up assets or share responsibility for children
  • Introduce a strong presumption of father contact and involvement in all family cases
  • Explore potential to replicate elements of the Sanctuary project from Nottingham designed to enable survivors of domestic abuse to remain in their homes and feel safe - the costs of relocating a family were estimated at £5,500 while the costs of added security measures were calculated at £3,000
  • Attorney General to have greater oversight of the work of the Public Prosecution Service
  • End the practice of imprisoning people who cannot pay fines and debts, exploring options such as seizing assets or acquiring the sum gradually from wages or welfare payments
  • Explore outcomes-based contracts with partner organisations to help reduce reoffending
  • Tackle ‘brick bandits’ by reversing the existing Housing Executive policy of not seeking prosecutions and requiring the issue to be taken more seriously by the courts
  • Encourage public bodies to establish legal panels, providing clear guidance on upper payment limits for their legal representation
  • Support our Armed Forces personnel serving in Afghanistan and their families


POLICING

  • Review the future role of the Policing Board in light of the transfer of policing and justice functions to the Northern Ireland Assembly
  • Establish a new police and fire service training centre
  • Increase the proportion of time police officers spend on operational duties to levels comparable with the rest of the United Kingdom
  • Root out administrative duplication in policing and emphasise the primacy of the quality of investigation over the requirement to record
  • Maximise administrative duties carried out by civilian staff in order to free up officers for fighting crime
  • Improve the performance of the firearms licensing section to match mainland levels
  • Reduce the number of police officers required in court
  • Limit the use of police speed cameras to accident blackspots


PRISONS

  • Reduce the average annual costs per prisoner in Northern Ireland
  • Seek to remove separated status for prisoners
  • Have the power to grant separated status for individual prisoners devolved away from the Secretary of State
  • Implement interventions to prevent reoffending, learning from projects such as the Prince’s Trust pilot initiative at Hydebank which aids the transition to independent living
  • Explore potential for the Department of Justice to become involved in a social impact bond pilot such as that to reduce reoffending in Peterborough
  • Ensure prisoners are not treated more favourably than law-abiding citizens


THE PAST

  • Fund ongoing work of the Historic Enquiries Team until completion, conducting an interim review to monitor performance and cost effective practice
  • Continue after the election period to build broader consensus around amending the definition of a victim to exclude perpetrators of terrorist acts
  • Resist attempts by republicans and elements of the media to rewrite the history of the last four decades or justify terrorist campaigns
  • Support the right to justice for bereaved victims of terrorism
  • Continue to direct substantial funding to the new Victims’ Service, after more than trebling provision available to victims and survivors
  • Carry forward the ten year strategy for the sector and complete the ambitious fundamental reform programme for victims and survivors’ services
  • Seek to establish an oral and video archive for victims and survivors of the Troubles
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