The cross-Executive Tackling Paramilitarism, Criminality and Organised Crime programme is active across all of Northern Ireland to support people and communities who are vulnerable to paramilitary influence and harm, with commitments being delivered collaboratively by government departments, statutory agencies and partners in the voluntary and community sector.
One of the main strategic goals for the Programme is to try to break the cycle of paramilitary activity and organised crime, and to stop another generation getting drawn into this spiral. Through a range of projects and interventions, the Programme is working towards ending recruitment and turning off the tap for these criminal gangs.
At the same time, the Programme works with people at risk of paramilitary influence, coercion and violence. This includes young people, men, women and the community; to fix paramilitary harm in the here and now, protect victims, address issues and provide appropriate help and support.
Minister Long said: “People have had to live with paramilitary control, violence, threats and exploitation for far too long. Life is hard enough without this. Families, communities and businesses are all desperate to return to normal after COVID-19 and the last thing they need is the negative influence of paramilitary gangs seeking to exert control, often for financial gain.
“Our focus, by extending and refocusing the Executive’s Programme to address paramilitarism, criminality and organised crime is to stop harm, both in the here and now and for the longer term. Through the Programme we will cut off paramilitary supply chains, whether that’s paramilitary drugs that ruin people’s lives, money-lending that leads to misery or the violence that leaves vulnerable kids shot and maimed in the street. There should never be any place for this and as a society, it’s so important we support the people who every day stop another generation being scarred in this way.
“This, of course, is a challenge that goes well beyond justice. It takes commitment from so many people, but I am heartened by the incredible work that has already been done by so many people across the public, voluntary and community sectors, often quietly and courageously, to end the harm caused by paramilitaries and those who try to cling on to their attempts to control people.
“We are operating currently in a less than ideal context, not least in light of the financial and social impacts of the ongoing global pandemic. This does not mean that we put our efforts on hold – quite the contrary – it puts an onus on us to be more creative, and to find innovative ways of delivering for those in need.”
The Department of Justice along with Justice Partners are responsible for the delivery of a number of Programme projects including:
- Aspire - targets marginalised men who are most susceptible to paramilitary/criminal influence
- Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF) - a Law Enforcement Task Force consisting of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), The National Crime Agency (NCA) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
- Community safety and Engagement - supports local interventions that enhance problem-solving around issues impacting on the community, and that promote engagement with, and visibility of, policing
- Enhancing the Learning and Wellbeing Outcomes of People in Separation - delivers a curriculum of learning and training opportunities to support better outcomes for prisoners in separation
For more information about the Programme and a complete list of funded projects, please visit: Executive programme for tackling paramilitary activity and organised crime | Northern Ireland Executive
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