Criminal Justice System In NI Does Not Deliver Value For Money - NIAO

The criminal justice system in Northern Ireland does not deliver value for money, according to a new report.

The cost of criminal justice in NI is significantly higher than in England and Wales and cases also take longer to complete, the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) has said.

The report, 'Speeding up justice: avoidable delay in the criminal justice systems', said the only way to address the issues effectively is through developing true partnership working between the police, prosecution, courts and the judiciary.

In a joint statement, the Department of Justice, the PSNI, the Public Prosecution Service and the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service said: "We acknowledge the challenges that the Northern Ireland Audit Office has raised in its report, and take this opportunity to reaffirm our collective commitment to speeding up justice in Northern Ireland," they said.

"We also recognise that there is a need to deliver better value for money. A range of savings measures have already been put in train and this will be allied with the development of more robust information about costs."
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Ulster Unionist Justice spokesperson Doug Beattie MC MLA said the report provides evidence of a system in crisis and in need of a culture change as to how it operates.

He said: "The Comptroller and Auditor General has delivered a damning indictment of the local criminal justice system and confirmed what many already knew to be the case, namely that it does not deliver value for money.

"It is indisputable that the justice system in Northern Ireland has proved stubbornly resistant to meaningful change and reform and yet it is in urgent need of a major culture change.

"The Comptroller and Auditor General found that the cost of criminal justice is significantly higher than in England and Wales and cases take considerably longer to complete, resulting in a negative impact on victims, defendants and witnesses.

"Put in a nutshell, it costs too much, takes too long to do what it is supposed to do and does not deliver the desired outcome.

"There is simply no acceptable excuse as to why Crown Court cases in Northern Ireland take more than 500 days from the date an offence is reported until the verdict is delivered, when courts in England and Wales take half the time. Incredibly, 12 per cent of Crown Court cases in Northern Ireland take in excess of 1,000 days to complete. That is almost three years!"


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