28/09/2010

Three-way Crime Focus At Justice Meeting

There was a both a cross-border and a cross-channel focus on crime as David Ford, the Stormont Justice Minister, attended the first trilateral meeting with the Irish Republic's Dermot Ahern and Kenny MacAskill from Scotland.

The meeting, at Stephenstown Pond Conference Centre, Dundalk on Monday, focused primarily on issues of common interest relating to human trafficking, organised crime, forensic science, DNA databases, police training and approaches to reducing offending.

David Ford said: "Working in isolation is not an option if we are serious about combating criminals who operate across jurisdictions.

"At an operational level, there is excellent co-operation amongst the law enforcement agencies and today's meeting reinforces that commitment at the highest political level.

"It is important to build on this meeting because the justice issues we face in Belfast are similar to those in both Dublin and Edinburgh.

"Working together to tackle these problems, and learning from the each others experiences, we can help keep make our communities a safer and better place to live."

The ministers reviewed measures being taken in each jurisdiction to deal with human trafficking and the cooperation of the law enforcement authorities in coping with "an evil, which respects no borders".
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They welcomed the high level of cooperation taking place between the three jurisdictions and expressed their determination that this be continued and intensified.

Minister Ahern said: "I was delighted to be able to host the first trilateral meeting with my colleagues from Northern Ireland and Scotland. While I have had bilateral meetings with both of them before we all felt that there would be great benefit in the three of us meeting together to discuss issues of common concern.

"That has certainly proved to be the case. For all of us, what this meeting has been about is learning from each others' experiences and supporting the cooperation which is so necessary so as to help keep our communities safer."

Also commenting, Cabinet Secretary MacAskill said: "Serious organised crime does not respect national or jurisdictional boundaries.

"I was therefore delighted to meet with my counterparts to discuss the issues that concern us all - and to agree how best we tackle those issues.

"Given our geographical proximity we need to ensure that the routes to and from our countries are safe and not channels for crooks and gangsters.

"We all face challenges in the months and years ahead. But there is no doubt that we will be better placed to deal with those challenges if we further develop the excellent relationships that already exist between our respective law enforcement agencies," he said.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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