The Minister was responding to the publication of a follow-up inspection by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate on the management of hate crime by the criminal justice system. The report acknowledges the progress that has been made in recent years while highlighting that more can be done.
David Ford said: “Northern Ireland has become a more open, diverse and tolerant society in recent years. However, that diversity brings its challenges in how we treat each other. Hate crime is wrong, and everyone has the right to live free from fear and prejudice.
“This report highlights many examples of very positive work within the criminal justice system. The PSNI in particular are to be commended for their work and I would hope to see this excellent work continuing.
“However, I am disappointed at the lack of progress on a number of recommendations and it is clear that more needs to be done. The criminal justice system cannot be complacent in its approach to addressing hate crime, and I have instructed my officials to take forward the outstanding recommendations as a matter of urgency.”
David Ford stressed that the Department of Justice is committed to working with partners within and beyond the justice system to tackle hate crime, and that wider society also has a role to play.
The Minister continued: “The devolution of policing and justice powers gives us the opportunity to work in partnership with others, to identify local solutions to local problems and help create a shared future.
“I am determined that my Department and the wider criminal justice system will, by working closely with others across society, play our full part in challenging and confronting the prejudice that feeds and sustains the divisions in our society.
“Addressing hate crime will therefore be an integral part of the cross-Departmental Community Safety Strategy, which I will be consulting on in the autumn.”
Commenting on the report Jim Scholes, Acting Director of Public Prosecutions said: “The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) welcomes the publication of the CJINI report on Hate Crime. It confirms that much progress has been made, but that more needs to be done.
“The PPS has drawn up a detailed policy document on the prosecution of hate crime which, following wide consultation, will be published shortly. We have also enhanced our services to victims whereby full reasons are given, without request, when a decision is taken not to prosecute.
“We are continuing to work with our criminal justice partners to fully utilise IT systems to ensure that the identification and recording of hate crime cases is consistent throughout the criminal justice system.”
Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “I welcome the follow-up report by the CJINI and am pleased the Police Service has been commended for our work in this area; the recommendations that have been met clearly show that progress is being made.
“But there is still a long way to go in tackling the scourge of hate crime. The Police Service will continue to play our role in preventing such dreadful crimes from occurring, but we alone cannot solve what is a wider societal issue.
“We will carry on working with our partner agencies to combat hate crime perpetrated against the increasingly diverse Northern Ireland society.”
Notes to editors:
- In 2007 the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI) published a thematic inspection of the management of hate crime by the criminal justice agencies in Northern Ireland. The report identified 19 recommendations for criminal justice agencies to provide a consistent, integrated and systematic approach to the reporting, investigation and prosecution of hate crimes.
- A follow-up review was conducted during 2009/10 to investigate progress against the 19 recommendations. Of the 19 recommendations, 12 have been fully achieved, with three partly achieved and four not yet achieved. The follow up review can be accessed at the CJINI website
- A hate crime is defined as any incident perceived by the victim, or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hate towards a person’s: race; faith or religion; sexual orientation; disability; political opinion; or gender identity; or a persons perceived race; faith or religion; sexual orientation; disability; political opinion; or gender identity.
- All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
This release can be seen online here.