The Department of Home Affairs is working on the next step towards a major reform of the Isle of Man’s criminal justice service.
Legislation is being drafted that will modernise processes, broaden sentencing options, tackle reoffending and protect vulnerable individuals.
The new Bill will take into account the views expressed during a public consultation in principle conducted in 2016. The Department has today, Friday 20 January 2017, published the summary of responses document on the Government website.
That feedback will support work to develop the future of criminal justice, sentencing and offender management in the Island.
The Department is leading the programme of modernisation on behalf of Government and many improvements have been made at operational level since Tynwald approved the Criminal Justice Strategy in December 2012. The new legislation will build on that progress in line with the Strategy’s four key priorities of prevention, appropriate response, rehabilitation and new ways of working.
Home Affairs Minister Bill Malarkey MHK said:
‘The Department is looking to the future and driving forward reforms to make the criminal justice service better, faster, simpler and more cost efficient. I wish to thank everybody who responded to the consultation in principle. Those comments will shape new legislation to help us deal with problems earlier, support vulnerable people, promote the rehabilitation of offenders and break the cycle of criminal behaviour.’
‘We are committed to improving outcomes for all those affected by and working within the criminal justice service to ensure the Isle of Man remains a special place to live and work.’
The new Bill will propose greater use of cautions and fixed penalty notices to help divert people from criminal behaviour, treating 17-year-olds who appear in court as juveniles rather than adults and placing the successful Youth Justice Team on a statutory footing.
The Department will also seek to introduce Domestic Violence Protection Notices and Orders to enable the police to take immediate and appropriate action in domestic abuse cases, and to strengthen Reparation Orders – which require offenders to make amends for the harm they have caused – by increasing the number of hours that can be served from 24 to 100.
Other proposals will focus on extending the use of digital technology across the criminal justice service and on supporting witnesses and victims of crime by providing alternative ways for evidence to be heard and cross-examined, such as the increased use of video recordings.
In addition, the Department says it will investigate how to provide greater clarity about the length of time an offender spends in prison before they are eligible for early release on parole.
Measures that will not be taken forward at this time include converting short prison sentences to community orders and allowing offenders to serve their prison time on an intermittent basis, commonly known as ‘weekend prison.’
Once the new legislation is drafted the Department will hold a consultation to provide a further opportunity for public comment before introducing the Bill into the branches of Tynwald.