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Assembly Question AQO 845/17-22

Question: To ask the Minister of Justice for an update on her Department’s work on tackling paramilitarism.

Answer: My Department is responsible for co-ordinating the cross Executive Action Plan on Tackling Paramilitary Activity, Criminality and Organised Crime. Members will be aware that commitments under this plan are delivered by a range of government departments, and as Justice Minister I am progressing a number of specific actions.

It is vital that we have a robust legislative framework underpinning the criminal justice response to paramilitarism. That is why I am moving ahead with legislation on committal and the commencement of the Criminal Finances Act 2017. I am reviewing the results of a public consultation on organised crime offences, which closed on 2 October. I have also expanded the scope of the unduly lenient sentencing scheme to include hybrid offences linked to terrorism, paramilitary activity and organised crime groups

As members will appreciate, effectively tackling paramilitarism means building capacity across the wider system. As such, my Department supports Policing and Community Safety Partnerships in building community confidence and embedding a culture of lawfulness.

Under the Action Plan, accredited restorative justice organisations have been at the forefront of developing restorative practice, delivering mediation and support services, and prevention and diversionary programmes. They have been engaged in plans to develop a Centre of Restorative Excellence. Furthermore, training and education opportunities are offered to all prisoners currently within the separated regime.

I have also re-established the Political Advisory Group, which I chair. This will ensure that there is political leadership and engagement on improving our communities’ resilience to paramilitarism.

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