Justice Minister Naomi Long has welcomed the publication of an Implementation Plan to deliver improvements identified in the Gillen Review into the Law and Procedures in Serious Sexual Offences.
The Implementation Plan was developed with key partners, including PSNI, PPS (The Public Prosecution Service), the Office of the Lord Chief Justice, Victim Support NI, PBNI (The Probation Board for Northern Ireland) and NICTS (The Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service). It sets out an agreed approach to address the issues raised following a collective evaluation of the recommendations made.
Naomi Long said; “Cases involving sexual crime are some of the most intrusive and difficult for victims to endure. We want to do everything in our power to support victims of these crimes through every stage of their journey through the justice system.
The completion of this Implementation Plan marks an important step towards the delivery of better outcomes in these cases.”
Strategic Priority Areas have been identified which focus efforts around achieving outcomes that will have the greatest impact for complainants over a five year period.
Strategic Priority Areas include (but are not limited to):
- the establishment of a new Remote Evidence Centre;
- introduction of a committal reform bill designed to remove the use of oral evidence as part of the committal process, and to introduce new arrangements whereby relevant cases can be transferred to the Crown Court at an earlier stage; and
- scoping work on the provision of additional support to young victims and witnesses.
Actions already undertaken include;
- an advertising campaign funded by the Department of Justice which ran in March 2020 in relation to consent,
- the establishment of the Gillen Training Group,
- the appointment of Case Progression Officers in NICTS and PPS to support judicial case management and reduce delay; and
- the launch of a voluntary protocol led by Her Honour Judge Smyth to expedite sexual offence cases involving children under 13.
Naomi Long continued: “I want to thank colleagues across partner organisations for their efforts to take action to address the issues raised in the Gillen Review to date, and for engaging with my Department to develop this plan to further that work collaboratively. It is my hope that working together, we can deliver real change across the justice system.”
The Implementation Plan has been agreed by the Criminal Justice Board, which commissioned the independent review undertaken by Sir John Gillen.
The Implementation Plan: Gillen Review into the Law and Procedures in Serious Sexual Offences is available at Justice-NI/publications
Notes to editors:
- The Criminal Justice Board provides oversight of the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland. The Board is chaired by the Minister of Justice and comprises the Lord Chief Justice, the Chief Constable, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and senior officials from the Department of Justice.
- The Gillen Review: Report into the law and procedures in serious sexual offences in NI can be found at https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/publications/gillen-review-report-law-and-procedures-serious-sexual-offences-ni
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