21/12/2011

Match Banning Orders Kick Off In 2012

Football Banning Orders are to come into operation at the beginning of the New Year, Stormont Justice Minister David Ford has confirmed.

The orders will allow a court to ban a person from attending certain matches in Northern Ireland.

Other powers aim to improve community safety, provide better services to victims and witnesses in court and reduce the number of people going to prison for fine default.

The Minister (pictured) has signed a Commencement Order that places a series of new criminal justice powers on the statute book from 1 January 2012.

Other powers to improve community safety, provide better services to victims and witnesses in court and reduce the numbers of people going to prison for fine default are also being commenced.

The Alliance party leader and Justice Minister David Ford said: "The Justice Act which I took through the last Assembly addressed issues to improve the justice system and build a safer, shared society for all the people of Northern Ireland.
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"The measures I am now bringing into effect will make football grounds safer; will improve support for victims and witnesses in a court setting; and will reduce the number of people going to jail for not paying a fine.

"I have already commenced a range of powers from the Act and more will follow as my agenda to reshape and reform the justice system in Northern Ireland continues," he said.

In summary, the powers coming into effect are football banning orders allowing the courts to ban a person from attending certain matches in Northern Ireland; special measures to enable witnesses to give their best possible evidence in court along with new arrangements for the service of witness summonses and the Supervised Activity Order as a community based alternative to imprisonment for defaulting on a fine.

This is being launched as a pilot scheme in the Newry Petty Sessions District providing unpaid work placements as an alternative to custody if an individual defaults on a court imposed fine.

This news comes just days after it emerged that hundreds of people had been jailed after non-payment of fines in NI, costing the prison system dearly.

See: UUP Slams Jailing Of NI Fine Defaulters

(BMcC)

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