Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Violent offender orders recommended

Violent Offender Orders would allow police to ask a court to place conditions on a convicted criminal's behaviour in the community

Violent offender orders should be introduced to reduce the risk from dangerous criminals, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has said.

The proposal would allow police to ask a court to place conditions on an offender's behaviour in the community, to help manage any public danger posed by those convicted of crimes such as causing grievous bodily harm.

Individuals would have to tell the police their address, identity details and if they intended to travel outside the UK.

The consultation document said: "Introducing Violent Offender Orders (VOOs) will ensure that risk from violent offenders is better managed following the end of their sentence, as currently happens with sex offenders who are subject to Sexual Offences Prevention Orders."

In England and Wales, VOOs cover those convicted of offences such as manslaughter and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. They last for two to five years and limit offenders' access to people, places or events.

The DoJ has already received responses from criminal justice agencies that the orders should be introduced quickly. Sexual Offences Prevention Orders are used by agencies responsible for sex attackers and the consultation said it would be unlikely that similar powers would not be valuable for dealing with violent offenders.

The consultation also covers proposed changes in how sex offenders are managed. This follows a judgment in the Supreme Court, applicable across the UK, which ruled that it was against a person's human rights not to allow for any review of the indefinite period that people who leave prison remain on the sex offenders' register.

It will allow convicts to come off the register 15 years after they leave prison if police are satisfied that there is no longer a risk to the public. The proposals would cover a framework for reviewing indefinite periods of notification and strengthening the requirements to make them more effective.

Justice minister David Ford said: "The sex offender notification requirements already play a large part in the drive to reduce reoffending. These new proposals aim to increase their effectiveness.

"The law will also be reformed, in light of a recent Supreme Court judgment, to include a review process for offenders who have indefinite notification periods. However, public protection remains the prime objective and the police will not discharge the obligation to notify if the offender continues to pose a risk. In addition to sexual offending, we also want to ensure that risk from violent offenders is properly targeted."

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