The Ulster Unionist Party’s North Antrim MLA Robin Swann, has welcomed a commitment by the Justice Minister David Ford to bring forward legislation which will give effect to the Private Members' Bill which Mr Swann had proposed. As a result, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Central Investigation Unit will be brought under the responsibility for inspection, of the Criminal Justice Inspection (CJI) Northern Ireland.
Mr Swann said:
“I introduced my Private Member's Bill due to concerns about the effectiveness of the Department of Agriculture’s Central Investigation Service.
“The main reason why I became interested in this unit was because of a Deloitte report – 'Project Rainbow’ - that came about because of the operations of the unit. Out of five investigators who were employed at that time, three used whistle-blowing protocols so that they could highlight their concerns.
“I was also concerned that over a five-year period between 2009 and 2014, CIS investigated £1,286,000 of potential fraud; over that same period they brought in the region of £66,000 of successful prosecutions. That is a success rate of 5.15% on the cases that they looked into. The cost of the unit over that time was £733,000, so it did not appear to be effective.
“In addition, I was mindful of the fact that this unit was providing training to other Departments on how to investigate and manage fraud, yet it did not seem to be following the very procedures that it was training other Departments to use.
“I therefore brought forward my Private Member’s Bill and I welcome the fact that it has prompted action from the Justice Minister who has moved quickly in bringing CIS under the remit of the Criminal Justice Inspection. I trust that past mistakes will not be repeated and that confidence can be restored.”