North-South Co-Operation in Criminal Justice Matters
Ministers Helen McEntee and Naomi Long MLA met to discuss north-south cross border co-operation on criminal justice matters. The Ministers reviewed the excellent ongoing cooperation across a wide range of criminal justice fields including forensic science, public protection and victim support.
Minister McEntee said, “it is clear from yesterday’s meeting that there is a high degree of dynamic co-operation between our criminal justice systems. Excellent cross border cooperation is taking place in a range of criminal justice areas via the IGA. This work includes tackling hate crime, supporting victims, the management of high risk offenders, and early intervention strategies to combat youth offending. Under the IGA Work Programme (2021-23) this excellent work will continue to be enhanced.”
“Minister Long and I had a very productive discussion on the criminal justice challenges we face in both parts of the island. We must address these challenges and continue to co-operate in coming up with positive solutions to our shared problems. In particular, we discussed the work we are both doing to tackle domestic, sexual and gender based violence, including the introduction of legislation around stalking and non-fatal strangulation. We also shared information regarding what we are doing to address human trafficking.”
Minister Long said, “the cross-border co-operation on justice matters in both jurisdictions continues to produce very encouraging outcomes across a range of cross-border issues such as offender mental health, hate crime, youth justice, forensic science and support for victims. The IGA contributes greatly to ensuring we are doing everything we can to promote good practice in these areas. The absence of Ministers in Northern Ireland will not impede this important work, since cooperation will continue at official level and between our law enforcement partners.”
At the meeting the Ministers were also updated on the work of the cross border Joint Agency Task Force. They highlighted the continuing high level of co-operation and operational activity between the law enforcement agencies involved in tackling rural crime, drugs, financial crime, trafficking in human beings including children, excise fraud, and organised immigration crime.
Minister McEntee said, “I must commend the ongoing collaboration that underpins the Joint Agency Task Force. This work continues to highlight the extensive North-South co-operation that is undertaken between the police and other law enforcement agencies. By working together, the Task Force disrupts criminals that would seek to exploit the border and by doing so, enhances the safety of all communities on this island.”
“I welcome the success of the joint operations already undertaken. It is clear that the Joint Agency Task Force is producing results through cooperation and operational activity – whether it is joint days of action against mobile organised crime gangs, or working together to ensure customs seizures or to identify victims of human trafficking. I would like to express my appreciation to all those involved for their ongoing work.”
Minister Long said, “the ongoing work that continues to be carried out by the Joint Agency Task Force is of a significant value and the results being produced through closer cooperation and joint operational activity highlights the necessity of continued collaboration. The impact of this work in disrupting organised crime gangs and making our communities safer is very impressive and I am very grateful to all those involved both in providing the strategic direction but also the operational cooperation on which that success is based.”