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Minister pushes forward on criminal justice modernisation

Friday, 23 March 2012

Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK is making progress in the drive towards modernising the Island’s criminal justice system.

A comprehensive programme of work is currently taking place with the aim of making the system faster, simpler and more cost efficient. The initiative is part of the wider Transforming Government programme which is continuing to identify ways to rebalance public finances following the reduction in the Isle of Man’s share of VAT revenue.

Minister Watterson has political responsibility for the criminal justice modernisation programme and is set to present a strategy for the future of the criminal justice system to the Council of Ministers in July. He is working alongside members of the Criminal Justice Programme Board which brings together the heads of various agencies including the Isle of Man Constabulary, General Registry, Attorney General’s Chambers, and Prison and Probation Service.

A number of important issues and new ways of working are being considered, with the intention of improving processes, cutting down on administration and reducing the number of low level offences appearing before the courts.

Minister Watterson said:

‘This review is an opportunity to make some significant improvements and ensure that the criminal justice system in the Isle of Man is fit for purpose for the next 20 years. Recorded crime in the Island is at its lowest level for more than 30 years which is a tremendous achievement and contributes greatly to our quality of life. However, the courts are still full and in certain circumstances it is taking a long time to deal with cases. There is scope to make the system faster, simpler and more cost efficient, and to improve outcomes for both victims and offenders.’

An initial review of the criminal justice system was conducted last year as part of the Transforming Government Programme. This identified a number of key issues and potential improvements that are now being taken forward by the Criminal Justice Programme Board.

Minister Watterson said:

‘The costs associated with reoffending and detaining people in prison mean that we must examine alternative ways to deal with offenders. One approach would be the increased use of robust community sentences and fixed penalty notices for certain low level offences. This would help to ensure that prison is reserved for the most dangerous and serious offenders in our community. We want to ensure the most appropriate use of taxpayers’ money and put in place a modern and efficient criminal justice system that works for the people involved in delivering justice, and for those receiving it.’

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