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Why the softly, softly approach?

23 September 2011

TUV Leader Jim Allister has questioned why so few  incidents of criminal damage by prisoners within Northern Ireland’s prisons are even referred to the police for prosecution.

In answer to an Assembly Question the Minister of Justice confirmed that since 2007 there had been 682 adjudications in our prisons which found prisoners guilty of criminal damage, but only in 40 cases was there any referral for prosecution. Mr Allister also expressed amazement that the Minister was unable to quantify the cost of the total damage caused, nor could he say how many of the 40 referrals actually resulted in prosecutions or the outcome thereof.

Commenting Jim Allister said, “The Minister appears to have a disinterested approach to this issue. I find it staggering that there can be almost 700 instances of confirmed criminal damage, but the Minister doesn’t know the cost. Nor am I impressed that less than 10% of incidents result in even a referral for prosecution. In Magilligan there were 61 internal charges of criminal damage upheld, but only one case referred for prosecution.

“This is public property which is being destroyed, but, apparently, no ready record of the cost exists and the chances of the perpetrator having to face the consequences of his actions through the courts, is minimal. What sort of an attitude is this to have to prison discipline? Little wonder so many emerge from prison to re-offend if their offending in prison goes unchallenged.”

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NI politics