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Potential efficiency savings in transfer of Policing and Justice‏

8 January, 2008

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has called on Unionist politicians to recognise the potential efficiency savings by bringing control of Policing and Justice powers under the remit of the Assembly.

Mr. McLaughlin said:

"Expenditure for the NIO is in excess of £1 billion per year. The NIO currently retains responsibility for law and order, political affairs, policing and criminal justice including matters relating to the licensing and legislation concerning firearms, explosives and fireworks.

"The NIO controls a number of related agencies such as the Prison Service, the Compensation Agency, Forensic Science Agency and Youth Justice Agency. It also funds the Public Prosecution Service. None of the expenditure on any of these NIO functions is subject to scrutiny by locally elected representatives. Considering the shortfall in finance available for Health, Education and Housing it is indefensible that this level of unaccountable funding is going to the NIO.

"By placing these powers under the remit of the Assembly the bureaucracy of the NIO could be made redundant. Bringing all of these functions under the control and scrutiny of the Assembly could potentially release efficiency savings that could be targeted at improving frontline services in Health, Education and Social Housing etc.

"Unionist politicians need to recognise the potential financial benefits that would accrue from taking as many powers away from Direct Rule Ministers as possible. We hear a litany of criticisms from unionist politicians about the ineptitude of Direct Rule yet they insist on retaining Direct Rule in the areas that most affect the daily lives of every person. Refusing to take control of policing and justice and tax varying powers that would provide a measure of financial independence is not the type of leadership that is expected of locally elected representatives. Confident, decisive leadership is what people expect not the procrastination being displayed by unionist politicians." ENDS

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