Independent Inspection will check on Management of Sex Offenders

Criminal Justice Inspection is to carry out an independent inspection of the action taken by criminal justice agencies to strengthen arrangements for the management of sex offenders following the sentencing of Trevor Hamilton for the murder of Strabane pensioner Attracta Harron.

Kit Chivers, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland said the inspection would take into account the internal investigations carried out by the PSNI, the Probation Board for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Prison Service following Mrs. Harron’s murder. It would also take account of the findings of the separate Serious Case Review carried out by Mr. David Watkins.
“I have been asked to take on this important piece of work by the Minister for Criminal Justice, David Hanson MP.  This report will help improve arrangements for the management of sex offenders in Northern Ireland and provide assurance to the public that any failings within the system have been identified and addressed,” said Mr. Chivers.
“The tragic case of Attracta Harron is at the forefront of the minds of everyone in Northern Ireland and it is vital that lessons should be learned from what happened not just in a theoretical way but also in terms of improved practice on the ground,” he said.
Mr. Chivers explained that a CJI inspection of the inter-agency sex offender management arrangements (MASRAM) was undertaken at the request of the Northern Ireland Sex Offender Strategic Management Committee (NISOSMC) in September 2004 and a report published in March 2005.
At that point, CJI made a number of recommendations for improvement of MASRAM. It also gave a commitment that Inspectors would return in 2006 to establish if the agencies involved had acted upon the recommendations made in the report.
“The review which the Minister has invited me to carry out today will fit in well with work CJI had already given a commitment to undertake, and it will enable Inspectors to look again at the whole issue of sex offender management as well as examining the issues raised by the handling of Trevor Hamilton.”
Mr. Chivers said he aimed to produce an interim report in about three months’ time, and would produce a final and definitive report to check that all the recommendations that have been made are fully implemented by August 2007.
“I welcome the commitment given by the PSNI, the Probation Board and the Northern Ireland Prison Service to co-operate fully with the inspection,” he said.
The Chief Inspector continued: “I would like to extend my sincere sympathy to the family of Attracta Harron at this difficult time.
"I would pay tribute to the courage shown by the Harron family throughout this ordeal and would propose, if they are willing, to involve them fully in this review. Their support for the process would be invaluable,” he concluded.