Cost and impact of the past revealed in new report by Criminal Justice Inspection
A new report by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) has indicated the financial cost borne by criminal justice agencies in Northern Ireland in terms of dealing with the past is estimated to exceed £30m per year.
The inspection report also found that while the cost of dealing with legacy issues had largely been absorbed by the criminal justice agencies, this had negative consequences for current day criminal justice issues.
"CJI undertook this inspection to provide information on the costs and impacts for the criminal justice system in dealing with the past," said Brendan McGuigan, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.
"The report looked at the estimated total costs which may exceed over £187m in five years time, and the implications and risks that legacy issues can create in terms of reduced public confidence in the criminal justice system and the ability of criminal justice agencies to deliver effective and efficient services now and in the future."
Mr McGuigan said the Inspection found a willingness and commitment existed among leaders and criminal justice organisations to meet and manage their individual and collective obligations in relation to the past. Yet this resolve was undermined by delay as the various agencies sought to ensure individuals with the correct skills were allocated to addressing legacy issues.
The Chief Inspector added that it was the view of Inspectors that the criminal justice system had not been structured to deal with the past nor could it provide a comprehensive solution to legacy issues.
"This report does not set out to indicate how the past should be approached or offer a view on the costs and impacts associated with this work. However, CJI believes that in the absence of political consensus, the establishment of a Legacy Executive Group - with membership drawn from across the criminal justice system - to improve communication and create a criminal justice wide legacy strategy, would be beneficial," said Mr McGuigan.
"This group could in turn address key issues such as the prioritisation, co-ordination and progression of legacy cases which may be beneficial in terms of managing the needs and expectations of victims and their families," concluded Mr McGuigan.