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Adams Gives Justice Minister 10 Specific Proposals to tackle Violent and Anti-Social Crime

2 June, 2010 - by Pat Sheehan

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today met the Minister of Justice David Ford to put to him a series of 10 specific proposals to tackle violent and anti-social crime. Mr. Adams was accompanied by Councillor Marie Cush, Fra McCann MLA and Sue Ramsey MLA.

Mr Adams also raised concerns about conditions for prisoners in Maghaberry and current situation within the prison.

Speaking after the meeting Gerry Adams said:

“The proposals we put to the Minister today have emerged out of the recent experience of the west Belfast community of violent crime, the experience of victims, the work of the Community Safety Forum and the PSNI.

The proposals can be grouped into a number of broad issues. These include technical issues like the definition of ‘hotspots’ and how the PSNI and other agencies deal with these; the supervision of repeat offenders; and legislation around the underpricing and availability of alcohol and illegal drinking in public places.

This was a useful meeting. The Minister has agreed to come back to me on the proposals we put to him today.

Our list of proposals is not exclusive or exhaustive.

They are useful first steps in beginning to address the problem of violent and anti-social crime but much more needs to be done.

The Sinn Féin delegation put to the Minister community concerns around the problem of prolific repeat offenders and the fact that their behaviour is poorly monitored and sometimes not at all.

We also pointed to the fact that the Public Prosecution Service and other agencies do not have a definition for ‘hotspots’ in the way that the PSNI and the local community have. This is a particular problem when bail restrictions are being imposed and the PPS and the courts fail to understand the importance of this definition.”

Sinn Féin Proposals to tackle violent and anti-social crime:

- curtailing under-pricing of alcohol in off-sales and large retail outlets;
- new standards of enforcement to curb on-street drinking and consumption of alcohol in public parks;
- more rigorous supervision of and management upon release of the most serious prolific repeat offenders;
- Changes in policy, practice and where necessary codes of practice and legislation to ensure :
- that there is a shared and coherent community / statutory definition of ‘hotspots’. This is crucial in ensuring that all of the relevant justice agencies have an agreed position to which they adhere. This will also require that other government departments deliver resources and policy changes;
- make a single point of contact for the presentation of cases which are to be brought before the courts and the processing of such cases;
- agree institutional practices and codes on the value of community impact assessments and statements in the function of all criminal justice agencies, not only the PSNI;
- that victims of crime are given more respect within the process and are empowered to give voice to their own injustice / grievances. The experience of families recently bereaved through crime lends weight to the need for this. 
- the PSNI to overhaul its ‘call-handling’ system which governs the despatch of PSNI patrols to respond to calls for assistance. This was recommended some time ago by the Oversight Commissioner on Policing Al Hutchinson;
- empower the Attorney General to have superintendence over the PPS, and ensure that the PPS should be required to give reasons for its decisions and disclose documents to the victims of crime.

The proposals we put to the Minister today have emerged out of the experience of the west Belfast community in dealing with anti-social and violent crime.

They are common sense proposals which can be applied in any area confronted by anti-social crime.

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