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Mrs. Attracta Harron

Volume 450: debated on Thursday 12 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action he plans to take following the reports of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Probation Service of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Prison Service on the circumstances that led up to the murder of Mrs. Attracta Harron; and if he will make a statement. (90602)

The murder of Attracta Harron was a horrific act done by Trevor Hamilton, who is now in prison for the rest of his life. None of the agency reports, or the independent case review, suggest that the actions of Hamilton could have been prevented by the agencies. Nonetheless, the arrangements for risk assessment and management of sex offenders have developed considerably since 2003 and further action has already been taken to implement all the recommendations in the agency and independent reports. I have also asked Kit Chivers, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland to review the implementation of the recommendations and report to me by the end of the year.

I also intend to legislate in the near future to place these important multi agency public protection arrangements on a statutory footing and extend their remit to include certain serious violent offenders in addition to all sexual offenders. Both types of offenders will always be present in our communities and those who are assessed as continuing to pose a high level of risk will be targeted by the various criminal justice agencies, with the assistance of social services and others, with the aim of reducing the likelihood of harm to the public when an offender finishes his prison sentence and returns to the community.

I am also considering the entire sentencing framework in Northern Ireland and will be making a further statement on this later in the year.