NI: Fewer than 60 per cent of NI Youth Justice Review recommendations implemented

Brendan McGuigan
Brendan McGuigan, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland

A new report from Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI) has found that fewer than 60 per cent of the recommendations of the 2011 Youth Justice Review have been implemented.

However, the report also found that fewer young people are now entering the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland.

It is the second of two reports reviewing process on the implementation of the 2011 Youth Justice Review’s recommendations.

Brendan McGuigan, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland, said the Department of Justice had failed to achieve its target of implementing 90 per cent of the accepted recommendations by March 2014.

Only 59 per cent of accepted recommendations had been achieved by 2015.

Mr McGuigan said: “Inspectors acknowledge that a lack of political consensus meant that some of the legislative changes envisaged by the Youth Justice Review Team were not possible within the lifetime of the current Northern Ireland Assembly.”

These included matters such as raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years and introducing statutory time limits to reduce avoidable delay for youth justice cases.

Mr McGuigan also said that the “current financial environment” was presenting “challenges that must be addressed and factored into our assessment of progress”.

Justice Minister David Ford, speaking after the publication of the report, said: “When it was published in 2011, the Youth Justice Review set out a direction of travel for improving our youth justice system and the way we deal with children who come into contact with it.

“Today’s report demonstrates that we have made some good progress in delivering on the report’s recommendations, and the youth justice landscape is very different now to that which faced the Review Team.”

Mr Ford added: “The Scoping Study on children in the justice system, which I commissioned earlier this year, will continue this work by building on the progress that has already been made.

“It links directly to a number of the Review recommendations, some of which we were unable to deliver upon in the lifetime of this current Assembly. The involvement of key partners from other Departments demonstrates a joint commitment to the work needed which makes such progress possible.”

The Scoping Study will examine the youth justice system in its entirety and make proposals to the Minister aimed at making the system simpler to understand, more efficient in its delivery and improving outcomes for children involved in it.

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