Protocols on the sharing and exchange of information on sex offenders living across Ireland was top of the agenda at a meeting between Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr Brian Lenihan TD, and Northern Ireland Criminal Justice Minister, Mr Paul Goggins MP, in Dublin today.
The Ministers met to review the continued delivery of a comprehensive and joined up criminal justice approach in areas such as tackling sex offenders and criminals who seek to use the border to escape justice.
"Everyone on the island of Ireland benefits from closer cooperation between North and South in the fight against crime," stated Minister Lenihan. "This Agreement has now run for more than two years and has provided a vital platform for increased cross-border coordination between the various criminal justice and law enforcement agencies. We can see that it has had a positive impact in areas such as the tracking down of criminals and our support for the victims of crime."
The Ministers stated that the two Police Forces were discussing the formalisation of the exchange of DNA and fingerprint data and the exchange of personal information on Registered Sex Offenders, and Minister Lenihan said that his Department and the Home Office would assess the harmonisation of legislation covering the registration requirements of registered sex offenders.
The Ministers looked forward to continued co-operation between the bodies responsible for tackling criminality and helping victims, on both sides of the border.
Minister Goggins said, "Sharing of information, expertise and knowledge is paramount in tracking down criminals and those who oppose the law. It is vital that the criminal justice organisations and in particular our police forces forge even closer links in the fight against crime. This excellent work will continue and is a clear signal to criminals that they will not be allowed to use the border to escape justice."
27 November 2007
Notes to Editors
1. The Agreement on Co-operation on Criminal Justice Matters was signed on 26 July 2005. The Agreement established a regular meeting of the two responsible Ministers, reporting to the BIIGC, at which they:
- discuss criminal justice matters of mutual interest or concern in the two jurisdictions.
- consider the scope for, and develop plans to achieve, more effective co-operation and co-ordination on criminal justice matters between the two jurisdictions.
- oversee and give direction to the work of the Working Group.
- approve and periodically review progress against work programmes on criminal justice co-operation.
2. The Agreement also established a Working Group of officials from the Northern Ireland Office and Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (DJELR). Members support the Ministerial Meetings, take forward work on implementing recommendations of the Criminal Justice Review of Northern Ireland which relate to North/South co-operation, and identify other areas in which co-operation on criminal justice matters could be enhanced or initiated, as appropriate. The Working Group prepares, seeks the agreement of the Ministers to, and implements work programmes on co-operation and co-ordination on criminal justice matters.
3. Those areas addressed by the Working Group include work on liaison between forensic units, monitoring registered sex offenders, public protection, the exchange of personnel, and improving arrangements for victim support.