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Criminal Justice

Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 18 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on progress in implementing the Review of the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland. [119725]

The Government are making good progress in taking forward the implementation of the Review of the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland. I wish to take this opportunity to announce a number of significant developments.First, the updated Implementation Plan for the Criminal Justice Review is being published today. The updated Implementation Plan sets out an ambitious programme of transformational change designed to modernise and enhance public confidence in the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland. It reports on the significant and encouraging progress which has already been made, and sets out clearly how the remaining work will be taken forward and the timescales over which this will be achieved.Copies of the updated Implementation Plan have been placed in the Library.Second, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in consultation with the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General, has appointed the right hon. the Lord Clyde as independent Justice Oversight Commissioner for Northern Ireland.

The Oversight Commissioner will provide public assurance about the implementation of the changes in criminal justice arrangements and structures in Northern Ireland set out in the updated Implementation Plan.

Copies of the Oversight Commissioner's terms of reference were placed in the Library on 18 December 2002.

Third, the Secretary of State has appointed Mr. Kit Chivers as Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland, as required by section 45 of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002.

The Chief Inspector will assist in the establishment of the new independent Criminal Justice Inspectorate recommended in the "Review of the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland". The new Inspectorate will play a vital role in ensuring that individual criminal justice agencies in Northern Ireland are meeting their objectives and those set for them by the Government, as well as ensuring that the criminal justice system works effectively in a 'joined up' way and as a coherent whole. It will also be responsible for ensuring the proper expenditure of public resources.

The functions of the Chief Inspector are set out in sections 46–49 of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002.