Proposals to expand spent convictions regime out for consultation
Proposals to significantly expand the spent convictions regime in Northern Ireland for the first time since its introduction more than four decades ago have gone out for consultation.
The consultation, to run until 5 March 2021, presents proposals to reform the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 to reflect changes in sentencing practices and developments in other jurisdictions.
It includes a reduction in the length of time that it will take for some convictions to become spent and an expansion of the kinds of sentences included in the rehabilitation of offenders scheme.
The consultation document notes that a spent convictions regime was introduced south of the border in 2016 and a consultation on expanding this scheme closed in recent months.
Justice Minister Naomi Long said: “It is essential that we have a criminal justice system which punishes offenders appropriately and fairly, protects the public and supports victims. But we also need a system that can reform offenders effectively so that they do not go on to commit further crimes.
“Much progress has been made on rehabilitation and release planning in each of our prisons in recent years and it is important that we build on this.
“By setting appropriate periods for sentences to be spent we actively support the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders back into our community.”
“This is essential if we are to reduce reoffending and ensure there are fewer victims of crime, making our communities safer and reducing the number of repeat offenders circulating within the justice system.”