In March 2005 the Northern Ireland Office published a consultation on the Sentencing Framework in Northern Ireland which considered new measures to enhance public protection. The exercise was largely informed by provisions contained in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 particularly the introduction of indeterminate and extended public protection sentences for dangerous sexual and violent offenders.
Responses indicated strong support for the introduction of this type of sentencing power in Northern Ireland. It was believed that this would address the existing anomaly that dangerous individuals could be automatically released, unsupervised, halfway through a determinate sentence, irrespective of whether or not they posed a significant risk of harm to the public. The introduction of compulsory post-release supervision of offenders was also endorsed to enhance public protection and assist in the rehabilitation of offenders. In addition, proposals for electronic monitoring to manage compliance with curfew-based conditions were also supported.
The exercise also took into account the high profile media campaign for the abolition of 50% remission of sentences, sparked by the murder of Attracta Harron by an offender during the unexpired part of a custodial sentence.
Ministers concluded that Sentencing Framework should be revised and enhanced and that legislation should be brought forward. The purpose of this contract is to evaluate the current sentencing framework as the starting point for any amendments.