12/06/2006

Tougher sentences proposed for NI criminals

Those found guilty of sexual or violent knife crimes in Northern Ireland could face tougher sentences following the government's plans to review sentencing policies.

The announcement came at the launch of Criminal Justice Week, when Criminal Justice Minister David Hanson said that the government wanted to hear the views and concerns of members of the public who have been affected by crime.

The Minister also said that everyone in the criminal justice system is working tirelessly to reduce crime and to make Northern Ireland a better and safer place to live and added that while much has been achieved, many challenges still lay ahead.

Mr Hanson said: “I will spend this week listening to people’s concerns and hopefully hear some proposals about how to make things better. Government does not always have the answers. Often it is those closest to the problem who come up with the most effective responses.

“Criminal Justice Week is also about highlighting the good work that is being done throughout Northern Ireland to reduce crime. I will be visiting some of the projects that are making a real difference on the ground. Projects such as our lock out crime initiative which is bringing comfort to older people in our society."

The Minister added: “However I am not complacent and know there is more to do. I am particularly aware of the public concern around violent crime. The growing use of knives was one such concern. That is why I ensured that Northern Ireland was part of the UK wide knife amnesty and why we are tightening the legislation on the sale of knives to anyone under 18.

“That is the reason I am currently looking at sentencing policy and make an announcement on this by the autumn. I am also looking at what reform is needed to the system which manages sexual and violent offenders.

“Northern Ireland is a safe place to live and it has a criminal justice system that is increasingly world class, but there is always more to do and I am going to drive that forward.”

(EF/SP)

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