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Good working relationships between PSNI and PPS key to the success of supergrass trials - McCrea

Ulster Unionist Justice spokesperson, Basil McCrea, has said that for supergrass trials to work in Northern Ireland there must be a better working relationship between the PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service as well as adequate accountability measures

Speaking before a debate on the issue in the Assembly, Basil said:

“Supergrass trials and the reliability of evidence provided by assisting offenders have been subject of much criticism lately, but outside of the recent Tommy English murder trial, there are examples where these trials have been shown to work well under the current legislation.  Evidence provided by assisting offenders can be a powerful tool in fighting serious and organised crime in Northern Ireland and indeed the rest of the United Kingdom.’

“We do however, share the concerns over the most recent supergrass trial here, which was extremely costly and the lack of convictions served only to lower public confidence in our justice system.’

“With the nature of the evidence involved in such trials it is vital that the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service are working together as fluidly as possible.  There has been open criticism of the quality of the police files by the head of the PPS, and if assisting offender evidence is to work effectively then there must be positive relationships between the PSNI and the PPS.’

“The Ulster Unionist Party have advocated a Police Ombudsman style commissioner to monitor the PPS and to ensure it is working as effectively and efficiently as possible.  If our police service is subject to scrutiny by an ombudsman and the Policing Board then it makes sense that our Public Prosecution Service should be held to account in an equally robust manner. The Department of Justice is currently undertaking a consultation on this issue which provides a good opportunity to have the debate.’

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