Sir John Gillen, recently retired Court of Appeal Judge, who is leading an independent review into how the law and procedures in Northern Ireland deal with serious sexual offences, has published his preliminary report containing over 220 draft recommendations for consultation.
Within the preliminary draft are recommendations and suggested measures to urgently tackle issues such as disclosure of evidence and rape myths. Both of which are creating delays in the justice system.
All recommendations are open for consultation and include; the option of a measure of publically funded legal advice for complainants; restricting access to serious sexual crime trials to close family members of the complainant and defendant; the introduction of legislation to manage the danger created by the inappropriate use of social media: the introduction of anonymity for suspects pre-charge; and measures to address the vast under reporting of serious sexual crime.
Sir John Gillen said: “Sexual crime is one of the worst violations of human dignity.
“My aim is to recommend improvements in the ways in which our justice system deals with serious sexual crime while ensuring delivery of a timely, fair and just hearing for complainants and defendants.
“I have published my preliminary report for consultation to ensure that no voice is left unheard in this important and much needed review.”
The review team has proactively been in direct contact with over 200 individuals and organisations including complainants, former defendants after acquittal, statutory and voluntary organisations, members of the Judiciary and those involved in the legal profession to hear first-hand evidence and accounts of their experiences.
The work has also drawn on the experiences of 15 other countries and various jurisdictions across Europe, the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Sir John Gillen added: “I am enormously grateful to the many contributors who have already shared personal accounts, views and opinions with me. Their contributions are invaluable.
“The identity of those contributing can, if they wish, remain anonymous and I encourage everyone who feels they can make a positive contribution to the review to engage in the consultation. I will give full consideration to all contributions, observations and suggestions before finalising my report early in the New Year.”
The review was commissioned by the Criminal Justice Board in April this year. The Gillen Review team is supported in the work by an Advisory Panel made up of representatives of victims groups, Human Rights Commission, the Judiciary, Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Public Prosecution Service, those with legislative responsibility for justice and the law, the wider legal profession and those with an academic view.
The consultation will remain open until Friday 18 January 2019. Outreach events will take place during the consultation period in Belfast, Derry/Londonderry and Dungannon.
The preliminary report and details of events can be found at: www.gillenreview.org
Responses can be made online at: www.gillenreview.org, email: firstname.lastname@example.org telephone: 028 9026 1361, or by writing to: The Gillen Review, 6th Floor, Millennium House, 25 Great Victoria Street, Belfast BT2 7AQ.
Notes to editors:
- The terms of reference of the review and details about the Advisory Panel members may be found at: www.gillenreview.org
- Press enquiries: Gillen Review 028 9026 1381