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Ford welcomes CJINI report on early guilty pleas

Justice Minister David Ford has welcomed todayís publication of Criminal Justice Inspectionís report into the use of early guilty pleas in the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland.
Wednesday, 13 February 2013

I'm grateful to CJINI for this report which recognises the considerable efforts we have been making to tackle delay in our justice system.

Minister of Justice David Ford MLA,Northern Ireland Department of Justice

David Ford said: “I am grateful to CJINI for this report which recognises the considerable efforts we have been making to tackle delay in our justice system”.

The report recognises the importance of encouraging those who intend to plead guilty to do so at an early stage.

The Minister also said: “Earlier guilty pleas reduce the burden on victims and witnesses, sparing them from having to give often traumatic evidence. They also release vital resources to help us speed up the system.”

The Minister confirmed that the Department would be bringing forward an action plan to deliver against the recommendations in the report.

He said: “I have asked the Criminal Justice Board to oversee delivery of the recommendations as part of my Department’s ‘Speeding up Justice’ Programme. This is an area where I am determined to deliver real and lasting change.”

Notes to Editors

Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (“CJINI”) conducted a thematic inspection into the use of early guilty pleas in the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland. The report was published today.

The report contains three strategic recommendations, makes eleven operational recommendations and lists four areas for improvement across the justice system.

In particular, CJINI recommends that the Department of Justice develops and oversees a structured and co-ordinated plan which delivers:

  • a clear early guilty plea scheme in the magistrates’ courts and the Crown Court; and
  • supporting infrastructures for the above, including reform of committal procedures, statutory case management and enhanced data collection and sharing between criminal justice agencies.

The Department of Justice will respond to the report with an Action Plan setting out a strategic plan of work to address the report’s recommendations.

All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.