Northern Ireland has ‘urgent need’ for more prosecutors

Northern Ireland has 'urgent need' for more prosecutors

Stephen Herron

Northern Ireland’s director of public prosecutions has publicly called for more funding in order to allow for the urgent appointment of additional prosecutors.

Stephen Herron told BBC News NI that the annual budget of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) “has not kept pace with things”, having been cut by 15 per cent in real terms since 2015.

He has called for an additional £7 million per year, pointing out that his counterparts in the rest of the UK and Ireland have recently received significant budget increases.

If the Northern Ireland Executive does not act, “victims will be let down by delays there are in the system”, he said. He said the average of 272 days to reach a prosecution decision in a sex offence case “is not acceptable”.

Mr Herron said: “The current timelines for decision-making needs to be improved, but we need the funding to do that.”

He told the BBC that recruiting 20 more lawyers in the next 12 to 18 months would put the PPS “in a more steady state”.

“Delays are not something the PPS can fix on its own,” he added. “All parts of the justice system need to be involved, but the most urgent need is additional prosecutors.”

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