NI: New court-based order for violent offences introduced today

Justice Minister Claire Sugden
Justice Minister Claire Sugden

A new court-based order has been introduced today to help protect the public from risk of harm caused by serious violent offenders.

The new Violent Offences Prevention Order (VOPO) is provided for by sections 55 to 76 of the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2015.

A VOPO can be used to prohibit a person’s access to certain places, premises or events and from contact with those people to whom they pose the highest risk.

It can also include positive requirements, such as attending a rehabilitative programme to help with offending behaviour.

The statutory notification requirements will help ensure that the criminal justice agencies are kept informed of their whereabouts.

Those who breach the order’s conditions, or who fail to notify their details, are liable to up to five years imprisonment.

Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister Claire Sugden said: “I know that people have concerns about the risk of violent offenders in the community. Public protection is a necessary role for the justice system and it is important that we continue to work with the agencies involved, to ensure that they have the correct tools and powers to help reduce the risk posed by violent offenders.

“I believe that the Violent Offences Prevention Order will have a positive impact on the effectiveness of the current risk management arrangements. It will help increase public confidence in how we manage risk. The new Order has been specifically tailored for this jurisdiction, and shaped through consultation with the public and the criminal justice agencies. Its comprehensive framework is designed to tackle areas considered a priority by those agencies, such as domestic violence.”

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