Ministers Naomi Long MLA, and Helen McEntee TD met today to agree a new two year work plan which will enhance cross border cooperation on criminal justice matters. The meeting was held virtually, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Naomi Long said “Cross-border co-operation on justice matters is vital to both of our jurisdictions. I welcome the opportunity to meet with Minister McEntee to discuss the range of cross-border initiatives and shared learning that are ongoing on issues such as offender mental health, hate crime, youth justice, forensic science and support for victims. The IGA contributes greatly to ensuring we are doing everything we can to promote good practice in these areas.”
Minister McEntee said “It is clear from today’s meeting that excellent cross border cooperation is taking place in a range of criminal justice areas via the IGA and the collaborative North South relationship is now strongly embedded in many of the areas of cooperation.
“Much practical cooperation takes place, along with valuable learning and information sharing. Supporting victims, tackling hate crime, collaborative work in forensics, the management of high risk offenders, and early intervention strategies to combat youth offending are just some of the areas of cooperation.
“Last year there were shared learnings and collaborative work in the area of consent which has fed into the recently established Online Consent Hub on sexual consent. This collaborative work is also assisting in the development of a national campaign to promote a greater understanding of the meaning and importance of consent which will launch later this year.
“Minister Long and I also discussed the key challenge of tackling violence against women and considered how work in this area could be further advanced.
“The New Work Plan provides the basis to continue and enhance the work under the IGA. Challenges remain and by working collaboratively we can deliver better policies and ultimately better outcomes.”
At the meeting officers from Police Service of Northern Ireland and An Garda Síochána updated the Ministers on the work of the cross border Joint Agency Task Force. They highlighted the continuing high level of co-operation and operational activity between the law enforcement agencies involved in tackling rural crime, drugs, financial crime, trafficking in human brings including children, excise fraud, and organised immigration crime.
Minister Long said “It is clear that since its establishment the Joint Agency Task Force is adding significant value and producing results through closer cooperation and joint operational activity. The impact of their work in disrupting organised crime gangs and making our communities safer is was very impressive and encouraging and I am very grateful to all those involved both in providing the strategic direction but also the operational cooperation on which that success is based.”
Minister McEntee said “The Joint Agency Task Force continues to be an excellent example of the extensive North-South co-operation that is undertaken between the police and other law enforcement agencies aimed at tackling crime and enhancing the safety of all communities on this island.
“As well as the very considerable operational activity undertaken, the Task Force provides a structure for strategic cooperation to take place. Strong progress has been made in tackling cross-border criminal activity across a range of crime areas and I would like to express my appreciation to all those involved for their ongoing work.”
Notes to editors:
- The Intergovernmental Agreement on Co-operation on Criminal Justice Matters provides a framework for increasing and enhancing co-operation on criminal justice matters. Within the framework of the Agreement, the two Ministers oversee co-operation across the range of areas in the criminal justice field.
- The development and enhancement of co-operation under the Agreement is taken forward by a number of Project Advisory Groups covering the areas of public protection, forensic science, youth justice, victims’ issues, and criminal justice and social diversity issues.
- The Joint Agency Task Force is led by police and revenue services and brings together the relevant law enforcement agencies to better co-ordinate strategic and operational actions against cross-border organised crime. It involves senior officers from An Garda Síochána, the PSNI, the Revenue Commissioners and HM Revenue and Customs; it also includes the Criminal Assets Bureau and National Crime Agency (who have the primary role in criminal assets recovery) as well as other interested law enforcement services (such as environmental protection agencies and immigration services).
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