Thursday 19 August 2021
The Committee for Home Affairs has appointed non-voting States Member Advocate Peter Harwood as its Committee Lead for Justice Policy.
This comes as the Committee ramps up work on its review of the island's justice system, following it being made a priority under the Government Work Plan. This initiative will include a review of sentencing policy.
While the Committee will be leading a review of sentencing policy, it still cannot comment on individual cases and sentences handed down by the courts, as they are a matter for the judiciary. Similarly, the enforcement of laws is a matter for Bailiwick Law Enforcement, who are operationally independent from the Committee. This separation of powers is crucial to ensure the criminal justice system operates without political interference.
The States of Guernsey endorsed the Committee prioritising the justice review under the Government Work plan, and the Committee now intends to develop a framework which recognises the relationship between social, family and criminal justice. For the purposes of background, last term's Committee presented the Justice Review a report by Gemma Buckland from Do It Justice to the States as a green paper. The report made a number of recommendations, including a review into sentencing policy but acknowledged far more information was needed. This resulted in a sursis which directed the Committee to develop a Justice Framework, and that workstream is now a priority this term.
Deputy Rob Prow, President of the Committee forHome Affairs, said:
"We were extremely pleased when the States endorsed the justice review as one of the priorities under the Government Work Plan. Since that endorsement, we have rolled up our sleeves and started the necessary processes; appointing Advocate Harwood as the Lead for Justice Policy is just one of the steps we are taking. This is of course a huge undertaking, which will need to be considered in the round, with full consultation with stakeholders and the public. I would ask that, as a Committee, we are given the time to complete this review thoroughly and properly, and we suggest no one should pre-judge the outcome of the review. By way of example, we know that the subject of illegal drugs is one that generates a wide-range of views across the community as a whole."
Advocate Peter Harwood, a non-voting member of the Committee forHome Affairs and the new lead for Justice Policy, said:
"As politicians and members of States committees we must always ensure that we do not interfere or comment upon individual cases that are current, and which are properly the responsibility of the Courts. The separation of functions between the law makers, the prosecution authority and the judiciary is vital to the integrity of our system of justice. The Committee is however fully aware of concerns that have been raised by the media and members of the public on matters of Justice and sentencing policy.
The Committee welcomes the commitment made by the States Assembly to recognise and prioritise the development and implementation of the Justice Strategy and to allow the Committee to deliver on the many recommendations contained in the Justice Review that was presented to the States Assembly in the last political term. We are committed to tackling the many and complex issues that were highlighted in that Review with the intention of implementing a justice Policy that responds to the social justice needs of our community."