The SDLP is calling for substantial reforms to the criminal justice system to deliver faster, fairer justice with increased accountability.
The SDLP is calling for substantial reforms to the criminal justice system to deliver faster, fairer justice with increased accountability. We will do this by introducing clear timeframes for cases, ensuring proper communication between victims, the PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service and the increased use of remote evidence technology. We believe that it is essential that the criminal justice system does not re-traumatise the victims and are calling for a review of all stages of the system to ensure the highest standard of justice prevails.
The SDLP believes that there is a pressing need to review the effectiveness and scope of the law so that older people are better protected from criminal activity.
Those who cause fear, inflict violence and commit crimes fuelled by alcohol must feel the full force of the law. Any person convicted of an offence where alcohol is an aggravating factor must serve at least a community service order if not a prison sentence. Suspended sentences for alcohol-related crimes are no longer acceptable.
The SDLP believes that there can be no room for leniency when dealing with those who carry out attacks against older people and pledge to support the introduction of mandatory prison terms for all those convicted of such attacks.
More than a dozen pensioners are the victims of crime every day in Northern Ireland and the conviction rates for these crimes can be as low as 4%. The fear caused by such crimes can imprison people in their own homes and medical evidence shows that victims of such attacks are likely to suffer from premature deaths.
The SDLP believes that we cannot continue to allow a situation where these crimes, and the fear of these crimes, destroy the safety, health and well being of our older population.
It is estimated that 18,000 of us a year are victims of alcohol-related violent crime, that one in five crimes in Northern Ireland have alcohol as a contributing factor and that 61% of street violence involved alcohol. It is clear that more must be done not only to challenge problem premises and suppliers but also those involved in anti-social drinking and those committing acts of violence while under the influence of alcohol.