Proposals from the Committee for Home Affairs to establish a seven-year Justice Framework were approved without dissent by the States' Assembly yesterday.
The aim of the Framework is to coordinate improvements to the Bailiwick’s justice system and States' justice policies, providing targets up until 2029. It will be reviewed annually by the States.
The President of the Committee for Home Affairs, Deputy Rob Prow, said the Framework was a “landmark” development for Guernsey.
“Justice is not broken, but needs improving,” he said.
Deputy Prow, pictured top, also pointed out that Guernsey is a “low-crime jurisdiction”.
Pictured: Deputy Rob Prow introduced the Justice Framework policy letter to the Assembly.
When the policy letter was published in April this year, Deputy Prow said: “Justice is not only about law enforcement and addressing criminal activity, but is closely linked to social and health factors, such as poverty, education and substance use, which requires us to work together to see the desired improvements."
The Framework was informed by a series of consultations, including a justice review report which considered the public's views on the justice system. It produced 43 recommendations.
The Committee will now develop a Justice Action Plan and present it to the States following debate on the Government Work Plan in June. The availability of resources - cash and staff - were noted as being a determining factor in how quickly work can be progressed.
Pictured: Advocate Peter Harwood, a former Chief Minister who is now a non-voting member of the Committee for Home Affairs, has been heavily involved with reforming the approach to justice policy.
Deputy Prow also said that an additional policy letter specifically focusing on domestic and sexual abuse will be brought to the Assembly for debate this year.
He thanked Advocate Peter Harwood and the various officials involved in bringing the Framework forward.
Deputies approved two amendments to the Framework. The first was laid by Deputy Lester Queripel. As a result of his amendment, alternative approaches to disputes, such as mediation, will now be considered under the Justice Action Plan.
Deputy Queripel has previously expressed concern about some of the procedures involved in parental disputes over children.
Deputy Prow seconded the amendment and said it “reflects the content of the Framework and its outcomes”.
Pictured: Deputy Lester Queripel has long argued that measures such as mediation can help prevent problems such as parental alienation.
The second amendment was laid by Deputy Gavin St Pier. He said: “There is a perception amongst some of the public that there are some offences which appear to them to receive lesser penalties than others."
As a result of his successful amendment, the Framework now captures that victims should be supported by reducing the time it takes to deliver justice, that it is crucial to maintain public confidence in the justice system and that violence against women and girls should be reduced.
Deputy St Pier used the example of penalties for child sexual offences against those for possession and use of drugs.
He argued that, while it is not the role of politicians to interfere with the independence of the judiciary, it is for politicians to determine “what a criminal offence is and what the penalties should be".
“The community need to have confidence that when justice is done it results in appropriate sentencing," he said.
Deputy St Pier added that there is “woeful under prosecution and conviction in relation to sexual offences” and many of these cases go unreported.
Deputy Prow also seconded that amendment.
Pictured: Deputy Gavin St Pier's successful amendment seeks to ensure public confidence in the system through swift justice and measured sentencing.
In his closing remarks, Deputy Prow said the Framework is “an all-government responsibility”.
“We will continue to consult with committees and will consult with individual deputies," he said.
You can read the Framework in full HERE.
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