Ministers Helen McEntee TD and Naomi Long MLA met yesterday to discuss cross border cooperation 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.”
“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.”
Note to Editors
- The Intergovernmental Agreement on Co-operation on Criminal Justice Matters provides a framework for increasing and enhancing co-operation on criminal justice matters. Within the framework of the Agreement, the two Ministers oversee co-operation across the range of areas in the criminal justice field.
- The development and enhancement of co-operation under the Agreement is taken forward by a number of Project Advisory Groups covering the areas of public protection, forensic science, youth justice, victims’ issues, and criminal justice and social diversity issues.
- The Joint Agency Task Force is led by police and revenue services and brings together the relevant law enforcement agencies to better co-ordinate strategic and operational actions against cross-border organised crime. It involves senior officers from An Garda Síochána, the PSNI, the Revenue Commissioners and HM Revenue and Customs; it also includes the Criminal Assets Bureau and National Crime Agency (who have the primary role in criminal assets recovery) as well as other interested law enforcement services (such as environmental protection agencies and immigration services).