Ulster Unionist Justice spokesman Tom Elliott MLA has commented on the Criminal Justice Inspectorate Report on the use of special measures in the Criminal Justice system in Northern Ireland.
Mr Elliott said:
“One of the cornerstones of any justice system is the willingness of witnesses to give evidence and the ability of the State to protect those witnesses.
This report identifies obvious failings, highlighted in the words of Deputy Chief Inspector, Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland, Brendan McGuigan who said “it was noted in the inspection that there were difficulties with the identification of Vulnerable and Intimidated Witnesses …. Because of this it is very likely that significant proportions of Vulnerable and Intimidated Witnesses are currently being excluded from the use of special measures.
“The consequences of the failure to identify the witness as being vulnerable or intimidated can be potentially stark. The criminal justice system needs to re-double its efforts to ensure a proper identification of VIWs from the outset. All of this needs to be underpinned by training and awareness raising efforts.”
This is absolutely essential for the smooth running of the justice system. The Justice Committee is currently undertaking an Inquiry into Victims and Witnesses of Crime, and will be considering this CJI Report as part of its deliberations
The Ulster Unionist Party will continue to ensure that the needs of Victims and Witnesses of Crime are given their proper place. It is time to place the needs of victims at the centre of the criminal justice system rather the needs of criminals.”