CJI conference examines challenges devolution will present for criminal justice system

Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) has examined the benefits and challenges the devolution of policing and criminal justice will bring for criminal justice agencies in Northern Ireland at its annual Stakeholder Conference.

The event held on Thursday 17 January 2008 at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast, was attended by over 100 delegates representing Northern Ireland’s criminal justice agencies and voluntary and community groups that work in the sector.
“Each year Criminal Justice Inspection endeavours to choose a theme that will provoke genuine discussion. This year we chose to look at the issue of devolution and the challenges it would present, not just for members of the various political parties, but for the criminal justice agencies both collectively and individually,” said Kit Chivers, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.
“At the event, delegates heard about the challenges greater local accountability would bring and the difficult decisions that would have to be made in the future surrounding the allocation of budgets,” he said.
The Stakeholder Conference also provided an opportunity for Criminal Justice Inspection to review its activities during the last financial year, and to consult stakeholders on its draft inspection programme for 2008-09.
“As our current three year Corporate Plan is coming to an end, we were also able to use this year’s conference to commence discussion with delegates about the ideas they had and priorities they feel we should be focusing on in the coming years in order to improve the criminal justice system ,” said Mr Chivers.
The conference was addressed for the first time by the Attorney General, the Rt Hon. Baroness Scotland QC, and the Lord Advocate of Scotland, the Rt. Hon Elish Angiolini QC.
They were joined by Sir Patrick Cormack MP, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee; Steve Costello, Chairman of the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland and Aideen Gilmore from the Committee on the Administration of Justice.
An open discussion on the issues surrounding the devolution of policing and criminal justice matters also formed part of the one-day conference programme.
A transcript of Kit Chivers’ address to the conference can be downloaded from the events section of the CJI website – www.cjini.org