Criminal justice agencies urged to maintain focus on serious and organised crime

The efforts of criminal justice agencies to tackle serious and organised crime in Northern Ireland have been commended by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) in a new report published today (12 November 2014).
The inspection found that many criminal justice agencies have invested heavily in responding to the threats posed by serious and organised crime.

"Serious and organised crime ranks among the most serious risks of harm to the community," said Brendan McGuigan, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.

"Organised crime gangs operate at local, national and international levels. They have been responsible for the growth of the illegal drug trade and the exploitation, murder and misery associated with their activities, is a constant concern.

"Inspectors found strong evidence within the criminal justice system of partnership working, focus and determination to tackle criminal activity of this type which can be further strengthened through the implementation of a number of strategic and operational recommendations," said the Chief Inspector.

Mr McGuigan said while Inspectors were supportive of the coordinating work undertaken by the Organised Crime Task Force, the collective efforts of government and criminal justice agencies could be improved by focusing on effective activities and outcomes linked to jointly agreed priorities.

The report also recommends that police Districts, working in collaboration with the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Crime Operations Department, need to take greater ownership and responsibility for tackling serious and organised crime.

"This work should be viewed as a core policing activity, that operates in tandem with community policing and benefits from a consistent approach, rather than being the primary responsibility of a dedicated Department," said Mr McGuigan.

"CJI recognises that implementing these recommendations may be challenging in the current economic environment, but they are designed to help criminal justice agencies reduce the threat and risk of harm to the public from those engaged in serious and organised crime," he concluded.