The Alliance Party has today released a new policy paper entltled, “Justice and the Rule of Law”. This paper has been adopted as policy by the Alliance Party Council.
Speaking on the launch, Alliance Justice Spokesperson, Dr Stephen Farry stated:
“Too often in Northern Ireland debates about justice and law order have focused on the very narrow agenda of the structure of the police and the criminal justice system, and demands for inquiries into particular instances.”
“Crime and the fear of crime are growing problems in Northern Ireland as a whole, and outright lawlessness in certain parts. We need a wider debate that focuses on the resources for the police, the enforcement of the existing criminal law, and making changes were deficiencies are identified, and addressing the underlying causes of crime.”
“Through this paper, Alliance is seeking to broaden this debate. Our paper is divided in three areas: 1. Structures and Resources; 2. Enforcement of the Law; and 3. the promotion of a culture of lawfulness.”
“Alliance recognises the centrality of human rights and democracy to the rule of law. The Agreement has not been responsible for this rise in crime, but rather, if used properly, it can provide the means to address this rise in crime.”
“Alliance has identified a culture of lawlessness in many parts of the community. There is a tolerance of paramilitarism and organised crime. Too many people do not appreciate the value of the rule of law to their own lives. Alliance wants the schools and civic organisations to work together to promote a culture of lawfulness. A culture of lawfulness exists when the dominant or mainstream culture of thinking in society is sympathetic to and/or consistent with lawfulness and the rule of law.”
Alliance Justice Paper: Key Proposals
ØAlliance proposes that greater efforts should be made to expand the existing police training capacity to increase the rate at which new recruits can be trained.
ØAlliance demands that the Government scrap the use of 50:50 recruitment quotas. We would suggest that targets for Catholic recruitment can and should be set, and a strong programme of affirmative action measures, short of quotas, should be used to achieve them.
ØAny community safety strategy cannot be separated from a community relations strategy.
ØAlliance proposes that the Government should reassess its strategy for and the resources for the protection of witnesses.
ØAlliance supports legislation on financial investigations and the seizure of criminal assets, and welcomes the creation of the proposed Assets Recovery Agency.
ØAlliance continues to advocate the eventual devolution of criminal justice and policing functions to a Minister in a Northern Ireland Executive, through a Department of Justice.
ØWhile it may not always be possible for the police to intervene at the time in public order incidents, Alliance believes that greater use should be made of video evidence for follow-up action.
ØAlliance urges the police to adopt a more pro-active policy of intervening when paramilitary flags and other emblems are being erected.
ØAlliance further advocates that consideration be given to the creation of specific offences concerning the erection of flags or other emblems and the painting of murals associated with proscribed organisations.
ØAlliance would support civil challenges against the Roads Service and the Housing Executive in respect of their duties to deliver their services in a neutral, non-discriminatory manner under Equality legislation.
ØConsideration should be given to creating specific offences of engaging in paramilitary attacks/assaults.
Alliance has called for stiffer sentences for racial and sectarian Hate Crimes, based on the Crime and Disorder Act.
Further consideration should be given to reviewing the procedures regarding decisions on prosecutions, and on extension of the length of sentences for offences such as public order.
ØAlliance calls for a culture of lawfulness to be fostered within Northern Ireland. Curricula can be developed to focus on teaching the value of the rule of law, and the consequences individuals and for wider society. These curricula can employ imaginative techniques, and use examples from immediate experiences and from popular culture.