Ulster Unionist Justice spokesperson Doug Beattie MC MLA has said that the NI Audit Office Report on Speeding Up Justice, provides evidence of a system in crisis and in need of a culture change as to how it operates.
Doug Beattie MC MLA said:
“The Comptroller and Auditor General has delivered a damning indictment of the local criminal justice system and confirmed what many already knew to be the case, namely that it does not deliver value for money.
“It is indisputable that the justice system in Northern Ireland has proved stubbornly resistant to meaningful change and reform and yet it is in urgent need of a major culture change.
“The Comptroller and Auditor General found that the cost of criminal justice is significantly higher than in England and Wales and cases take considerably longer to complete, resulting in a negative impact on victims, defendants and witnesses.
“Put in a nutshell, it costs too much, takes too long to do what it is supposed to do and does not deliver the desired outcome.
“There is simply no acceptable excuse as to why Crown Court cases in Northern Ireland take more than 500 days from the date an offence is reported until the verdict is delivered, when courts in England and Wales take half the time. Incredibly, 12 per cent of Crown Court cases in Northern Ireland take in excess of 1,000 days to complete. That is almost three years!
“We have had a number of Reviews in the past decade, yet outcomes are not improving. The culture needs to change, the system needs to be streamlined, lessons learned from good practice elsewhere and then they must be driven through.”